Days after the Boston Marathon bombing, as she recovered at Massachusetts General Hospital from injuries she’d sustained in the attack, Roseann Sdoia thought of Paul Martin, a college classmate she hadn’t seen in 17 years.
Martin had lost his left leg below the knee following a car accident in 1992, but he hadn’t let that slow him down. In fact, he went on to become a six-time U.S. paratriathlon champ.
Sdoia, a 45-year-old real estate professional who’s run numerous road races, including Cape Cod’s famed Falmouth Road Race, lost her right leg above the knee in Boston. So it was natural she’d reach out to Martin, an old University of Massachusetts buddy.
““The first thing she asked me was, ‘‘Where do I get my leg?’” Martin said last week at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City, where the Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF) honored six individuals—three victims and three first responders—connected to the Boston Marathon bombing, Runner’s World reports.
Like fellow CAF honorees Ryan McMahon and Heather Abbott, Sdoia has’ vowed to overcome her injuries and eventually return to running. Said Abbott, 38, of Newport, RI, “I’m starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. M”“y short-term goal is to walk without crutches.”
Joining Sdoia, Abbott, and McMahon—a 33-year-old marketing professional from Boston—on the list of honorees were firefighter Jim Plourde, Boston Athletic Association medical coordinator Chris Troyanos, and Dr. David Driscoll, who has served for eight years as a volunteer in the Boston Marathon medical tent.
The Waldorf gala raised $1.2 million for CAF and featured several guest speakers, including Sarah Reinersten, a paratriathlete who’s won three ITU Triathlon World Championships gold medals.
“Wearing their leg 12 hours a day is a test of endurance,” Reinersten said, explaining the difficulties of adjusting to life with a prosthetic. “The whole recovery process is little tests of endurance along the way. I want them to know that if they want to run, they can. But it takes time.”
Earlier this month, Abbott received her first prosthetic leg from Next Step Bionics & Prosthetics, Inc., in Warwick, RI, and Sdoia was scheduled to receive hers this week.
Undoubtedly, the coming months will prove difficult for Sdoia, but she’s got a good friend and role model in Martin. “You make a choice how it affects your life,” he said. “You have to think, ‘I may be missing a leg, but my heart and mind aren’t injured.’”
Based in San Diego, CAF aims to “provide opportunities and support to people with physical disabilities so they can pursue active lifestyles through physical fitness and competitive athletics,” according to the organization’s official website. Runners can help the cause via the site’s Ways to Give link, or they can consider joining the Challenged Athletes Foundation at the ING New York City Marathon. Click here for more information.