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Heather Abbott Boston Marathon Bombing Survivor & Amputee

Heather Abbott | PDA Speakers

On April 15, 2013, what is referred to as Marathon Monday in Boston, Heather Abbott of Newport, RI set out on an annual tradition with six friends.  They would attend the Red Sox game, followed by a walk over to the finish line to watch the runners. Abbott would never have dreamed this day would change her life forever. Abbott was struck by s...    

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On April 15, 2013, what is referred to as Marathon Monday in Boston, Heather Abbott of Newport, RI set out on an annual tradition with six friends.  They would attend the Red Sox game, followed by a walk over to the finish line to watch the runners. Abbott would never have dreamed this day would change her life forever.

Abbott was struck by shrapnel from the second of the two bombs, severely injuring her left foot. Strangers Matt Chatham, former New England Patriots lineman, and his wife, Erin, carried her to safety.

After three surgeries in four days, Abbott was faced with an agonizing decision – should she try and save her left foot or amputate her leg below the knee. With the help of other amputees, and the support from thousands around the country, Abbott made the difficult decision, at the age of 38, to live her life as an amputee.

Her recovery, as it is for many, was a journey through pain, anger, optimism, challenge and resilience. A significant part of her recovery was her support network – the friends, family and strangers who sent her well-wishes, the fellow amputees who helped her transition and the custom prostheses that allowed her to live her life as before.

Through insurance and donations, Abbott was given four different prosthetic legs. Just months after the bombing, she was living independently and resuming the activities she loves, including stand up paddle boarding, running and wearing high heels.

Abbott has remained a model of strength and resilience and is determined to help other victims of limb loss. She is a certified Peer Counselor for the American Amputee Coalition and is helping other amputees adjust to their “new normal,” as others helped her.

By starting the Heather Abbott Foundation, she has another chance to continue to pay it forward for all amputees. Heather Abbott has recently been awarded the following: the 2014 Orthopedic Association’s Spirit of an Active Lifestyle Award, an Honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters from Framingham State University in 2015, the Stonehill College President’s Excellence Award in 2015 and the 2015 Providence Business News Woman to Watch


  • Commencement 2018 Speaker Heather Abbott

    Abbott offers commencement address, speaks of bombing

Overcoming Adversity
Adopting three key life strategies led to living life again after suffering the amputation of her left leg in the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013. Hear Heather Abbott's story of resilience following that tragic event—and learn how you can apply her life strategies to your daily living. You can "Live. Your. Life." again, whatever your circumstances.
Beyond Medical Care: The Often Untold Story of Health Care Professionals’ Impact on the

Lives of Trauma Patients
We expect our health care providers to be skilled, experienced professionals who know how to nurse our wounds and treat our illnesses. But what about the less-talked-about side of medical care—the "softer side" of health care? Hear Heather Abbott's story of recovery and the major impact individual providers can have on a patient's recovery, especially those who have suffered traumatic injury. Sometimes the road to recovery is marked by more than just medicine.

Disabilities in Today’s Workforce: How Trauma Shaped One HR Executive’s Business Practices
At the time of the Boston Marathon bombing, Heather Abbott enjoyed a high-powered career as a human resources executive with a Fortune 500 company. Key to her job responsibilities was a focus on equal employment opportunity, affirmative action and ensuring the hiring and retention of women, minorities, veterans and individuals with disabilities. Little did Heather know that one day she would become the very kind of employee she was entrusted to protect. Learn how Heather's professional views changed as a result of her traumatic injury, and how all businesses today can benefit from her experience.

Paying It Forward: Finding the Purpose That Drives Your Life
Prior to the Boston Marathon bombing, Heather Abbott had a career she enjoyed, and the love of friends of family—yet something was still missing. It was, as Heather will tell you, a "passion" in her life—a "purpose" larger than self. Ironically, it would take something meant for evil to help Heather find true meaning to her being. Learn how you can uncover the purpose that will drive your life and change the lives of countless others.

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