Written by Casey White - Director of Marketing with EDSI
Two weeks ago, I had the opportunity to attend the Ballard Benefit Works, Inc. 7th annual conference. With a stated purpose to “inspire, inform and provoke,” Ballard lined up three exceptional speakers.
Mary Bauman, attorney and partner at Miller Johnson in Grand Rapids, MI, gave an “informational” update on ACA compliance.
Tom Emerick, founder of Emerick Consulting and Former Executive VP of Global Benefits at Wal-Mart and British Petroleum (BP), “provoked” the audience with a continued conversation about what is working and/or not working in health care and what companies can do about it.
Both Mary and Tom delivered exceptional messages, but it was the “inspirational” speaker, Heather Abbott, who moved me most at the conference.
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.
Heather would never have dreamed this day would change her life forever.
Heather 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 Abbott to safety.
After 3 surgeries in 4 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 remaining years as an amputee.
Keys to Heather’s Recovery
Heather is an incredible person, and she shared her hope that from this tragic event, she can find ways to positively impact the lives of others. I know that I felt deeply moved by her story, and I’d be lying if I said that the room was filled with dry eyes throughout her presentation. Specifically, Heather highlighted four keys to her recovery:
- Make your mess your message
- Accept your current situation so you can move forward
- Rely on others for support
- “Pay it forward” when you have the opportunity
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 donations, Heather was given four different prosthetic legs and just months after the bombing, she was living independently and resuming the activities she loves, including paddle boarding, running and wearing high heels.
Heather has remained a model of strength and resilience, and is determined to help other victims of limb loss. She is certified Peer Counselor for the National Amputee Coalition, and is helping other amputees adjust to their “new normal,” as others helped her.
And by starting the Heather Abbott Foundation, she has another chance to continue to pay it forward for all amputees who deserve a chance to live their life.
Helping people is the common thread of all that we do at EDSI. Perhaps this is why I was so moved by Heather’s efforts to help others in need. I’d like to thank Ballard Benefit Works for inviting our organization to the conference and for providing the opportunity to hear about Heather’s great work. If you would like to support Heather’s efforts or learn more, here are a few links to get you started.