We share the same fears, the same hopes, the same community. We are, in the end, one community.
Governor Deval Patrick
Boston Marathon Remembrance Day, April 15, 2014
April 15, 2013 2:51 p.m.
“What just happened in Copley?” “Something exploded” “Two explosions” “In Copley”
Texts from daughter Virginia, 18, youngest of four
From the corner of Newbury and Exeter Streets
No Boston.com. Redial didn’t go through. As a mom, you have to believe in a good outcome.
April 16, 2013 8:58 a.m.
Email to a colleague: I am just so grateful that Virginia stayed put and didn’t run one block in either direction. She was where the star is.
April 15, 2014 5:02 a.m.
I walked slowly from the corner of Newbury and Exeter Streets to Boylston, turned left, and then headed toward the familiar Boston Marathon finish line, paying homage to the fallen, the survivors, and the heroes of Patriots Day 2013 and its year-long aftermath. In the stark quiet of the predawn, out-of-town press folks, local photographers, and tourists from around the world acknowledged a deep sense of gratitude to all have helped our city and her people heal over the past year—children, teens, far from ordinary people, the medical community, and many members of the NaviNet network community.
April 15, 2014 8:15 a.m.
Just a little later, it is fitting that rain shed tears down from a cold iron sky as young Jane and Henry Richard and their parents lead the a private procession toward the wreath at the Marathon finish line. On Mayor Martin J. Walsh’s 100th morning in office, he comforts the families of Martin Richard, Lingzi Lu, Krystle Campbell, and Officer Sean Collier. Martin Richard was eight when he was killed on April 15, 2013. Team MR8 will run to raise funds for The Martin W. Richard Charitable Foundation Inc., which honors Martin’s message of peace by investing in education, athletics and community.
In the streets below the unfeeling clouds, the heroism of so many of Boston’s finest and hundreds of singular people is reflected upward in the determination of the Norden brothers to finish their “Legs for Life” relay with their family and friends. The “Yes You Can!” father and son story of Rick and Dick Hoyt, Team Hoyt, who are running one more Boston Marathon, doesn’t leave a dry eye. They strive to help the disabled become active members of the community. Our beloved Thomas M. Menino, the longtime mayor, is sure to be near the finish line on Monday. This is a man who checked himself out of the hospital on Patriot’s Day 2013 to serve the people he loves. Dancer Adrianne Haslet-Davis shared her biggest lesson, “It is up to us to make every single second count after, because believe me, they do.”
What the medical community did on Patriots Day 2013—and in the days, weeks, and months following—was nothing short of a miracle. First responders ran toward victims, carrying them toward ambulances that would clear the area in 18 minutes. Five area hospitals received more than 180 injured, many severely. Of the injured, no one died. Last year, Dr. Alok Gupta, a trauma surgeon at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, helped coordinate the response at Beth Israel, matching specialist teams with survivors. One of the many members of the medical community who are rallying around the Boston Marathon 2014, Dr. Gupta will run his first one on Monday—first marathon of any kind actually. According to USA Today, Boston Medical Center is fielding 105 runners, almost three times 2013’s 35 runners. The Brigham and Women’s Hospital team numbers 122, up from 67. And the ranks of the Massachusetts General Hospital team soared to 200 from 199 in 2013. As Dr. David Crandell, Spaulding Rehab, was so eloquently quoted in part in the Boston Globe as to my he is running this year, “…and do my part to help reclaim the race as a celebration and triumph of the human spirit.”
PAYER-PROVIDER COLLABORATION AT ITS FINEST: WHY SO MANY SURVIVORS WILL TAKE BACK THE FINISH LINE ON MONDAY
Last year, Aetna and Cigna immediately offered their behavioral health unit qualified services. People who were traumatized by the events of the Marathon bombing or its aftermath could have free telephonic consultations. They didn’t even have to be members.
Massachusetts General Hospital, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and Tuft’s Medical Center removed about 100 survivors of the explosions from their automated billing systems—and they withheld bills for the more than 80 other wounded, hoping that donations or assistance funds would cover the costs.
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts created a dedicated team of customer support specialists and caregivers. Harvard Pilgrim Health Plan and Tufts Health Plan waived all out-of-pocket medical costs for people injured during the bombing and contacted more than 1,200 mental health providers to try to keep appointments open.
The Aetna Foundation donated $100,000 to the Patient Advocate Foundation (PAF) to assist the Boston Marathon and West Texas explosion survivors. PAF helps survivors who faced and are facing long-term complicated healthcare issues make informed decisions throughout transitions of care and access medically necessary healthcare, including pharmaceutical products and medical devices.
The Tufts Health Plan Foundation showed its hometown spirit by contributing $25,000 to One Fund Boston following the Marathon bombings. In the first 90 days of existence, One Fund Boston had raised almost $61 million. The Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation donated $15,000—in addition to $73,000 in employee-generated contributions—to One Fund Boston. Highmark Inc. supported Pittsburgh EMS. Independence Blue Cross, which sponsored the Philadelphia Blue Cross Broad Street Run on May 5, 2013, donated $10,000 to One Fund Boston. By year-end 2013, there were close to $12 million in new donations.
November 2, 2013
RED SOX: A WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP LIFTS UP BOSTON STRONG!
In my favorite baseball movie, “For the Love of the Game,” there is a line that begins, “One last golden day of summer…” For those of you unfamiliar with the story, Billy Chapel is on the mound. He’s worn out, his injuries are aching, his heart is torn up after learning he would be traded. His choice instead: retirement after this last stand. He is on his way to pitching a perfect game—only through the almost superhuman efforts by his teammates and the supportive network of fans and members of the opposing team who respect what they are all there for: baseball and what it stands for.
On November 2, we stood at the corner of Clarendon and Boylston as the Duck Boats carrying the Red Sox were greeted by generations of red, white, and blue-clad fans, and cheers were heard clear across the river. We here in Boston enjoyed one last day of summer. From the horrors of Patriot’s Day texts to the bravery of people from all over the city, the country, and the world showed as they joined together as a network community to do whatever they could—and still do—to heal, to read, to cook, to teach, to give a smile, to offer solace, to be there. Amid the joy and laughter and celebration of an (okay…at the beginning of the season perhaps unlikely) championship on a fall Saturday morning, so many came together again in moments of silence and homage and hometown bursting with happiness pride.
BELIKEBRIT: A WISH FULFILLED AND A HOME ACROSS THE SEA THAT AN EVER-GROWING NETWORK BUILT
Buoyed by seeing people from all over the country enjoying an almost Secret Garden November Boston that same November 2 afternoon where in the 70-degree sunshine roses and mums and azaleas were blooming out of season in the Public Garden, we regrouped in the evening and put on our party pumps to celebrate a different network community at the 2nd Annual BeLikeBrit Gala at The Boston Harbor Hotel.
Then NaviNet intern and now University of Denver graduate Andrew Cantella introduced the NaviNet Network Community to the story of Britney Gengel, a 19-year-old Lynn University student who was on a mission in Haiti and perished in her room at the Hotel Montana in earthquake in January 2010. In part, her last text to her parents read, “I want to move here and start an orphanage myself.”
Britney’s parents, Cherylann and Len Gengel, and their sons Bernie and Richie have built a network of thousands of people. The 19,000-square-foot orphanage they have built in Grand Goâve for “the future leaders of Haiti” is a stunning architectural achievement—almost earthquake-proof. It is home to 35 children and employs more than 40 full-time people. Hundreds of U.S. and Canadian college students and other people volunteer annually.
When I introduced myself to the four women and young lady from Seattle sitting next to us at dinner, the power of a network became even more awe-inspiring. The CEO of a man called Jim Birch was supposed to be in Haiti, but due to a family emergency, Jim went in his place. He, like Brit, died in the Hotel Montana. Jim’s widow, Lisa Birch, daughter Megan, and her mother-in-law traveled to Boston to be present for the Gengels, as did the CEO’s wife and his partner’s wife.
Lisa and Megan traveled to Haiti for the dedication of the orphanage. Family friends donate money on Jim’s birthday to BeLikeBrit to honor his memory. When Lisa realized that she wanted to build a playing field for the children, Jim’s former CEO stepped up, and his company is making that happen. Lisa and Megan plan to make the orphanage their “lives’ work.”
Please write and share stories of the extraordinary people you know because as Governor Deval Patrick said on Patriots Remembrance Day, “ We are one community.”