I was away in Maine celebrating my birthday on Marathon Monday. My family and I rented a house with friends. We were all smiles, spending time with our children, our friends and their children. The sun was shining. We went on a hike. Ate together. Laughed together. Then mid-afternoon, my husband checked his phone. I could tell from the look on his face it was bad. Then more devastating reports about explosions at the Boston Marathon finish line started pouring in.

I am still in shock. Shocked that something like this could happen. Shocked that innocent people were injured. That three people died, including a child the same age as one of my own.

I almost feel guilty that no one we knew was hurt. That friends of ours left before the explosions went off. That I was busy celebrating something as trivial as a birthday. That I had worked at the Boston Marathon…right at the finish line… years ago. Then I learned that friends of friends were injured. Severely injured. And more lives were changed. These were people like us. People whose lives will never be the same. People who will forever be affected by this horrific event.

Challenged Athletes Foundation.

I think we’re all changed forever. No matter where you live. No matter where you were when it happened. You can see it in people’s eyes. That familiar look of disbelief. Fear. Shock.

We chose to turn off the TV most of the time while we were away. We wanted to protect our kids. But we checked our phones, our laptops, and tuned in at night.

All I could think about throughout the week was an amazing organization that I worked with years ago called The Challenged Athletes Foundation® (CAF). I got to know leaders and athletes from CAF when I was the PR Manager for global running company, Brooks. I had the honor of working with athletes who defied the odds and then some. CAF is a world leader in inspiring individuals with physical challenges to get involved – and stay involved – in sports.

I saw men and women with one leg, one arm, walk, run and win races. I learned about their stories, their lives, the limbs they lost and the records they broke.

Although I haven’t worked with CAF in years, their mission has never left my heart. Especially now, knowing that there are so many at the finish line, from athletes to spectators, who are on a long road to recovery. For those injured and their families, I hope that they realize that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Although healing will take time, there is hope. Especially with organizations like CAF, I strongly believe that one day, we will see them run again.

Visit http://blog.challengedathletes.org/ for more information and to get involved.
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