Essays that earned Marathon spots

Juliana Schilling, 21, Boston

April 15th, I woke up ready for an amazing day at the most amazing place to work: Niketown Boston. As a marathon runner myself, I was so anxious to hopefully see our athletes cross the finish line first! A coworker and I ran outside on a 15-minute break just in time to see [Lelisa] Desisa finish. Two hours later, my life changed forever. I was stationed in the rotunda to greet runners at Nike. I heard the loudest crash and assumed it was an explosion. My EMT training kicked in and as soon as I turned around to re-enter my building, my security locked the door to keep our customers safe from the stampede traveling down Exeter [Street]. A young man who was injured at the first blast site made eye contact with me outside and followed me into Nike. I knew he wouldn't receive proper medical attention inside a building, so I helped him to his feet and as scared as we were, we went back outside. I remember looking at my manager, Doris, and she begged me not to leave her line of vision. I remember the shrapnel that tore tiny holes through Andrew's dark-washed denim jeans, and all I could do was apply pressure and tell him he would be okay. At that point in time, I was the only relay point between my store and what was going on outside. After transferring care to a medic, I directed over 40 of our employees to the safest place in my mind I knew to go -- BU's School of Management.

Dr. Charles Schumacher, 29, Beacon Hill, Boston

The day before the bombing, I was eating dinner with visiting friends from Louisiana when I got a text calling me into work on Monday. This meant our plans to watch the Boston Marathon at the finish line would no longer happen. I felt disappointed, but certainly that kind of text is not out of the ordinary. You see I am a current orthopedic resident at Brigham and Women's Hospital. Instead of standing at the finish line, I would be covering the orthopedic trauma at BWH. Although the day started off routinely, it quickly changed when my pager went off at 3:08 p.m. It read multiple traumas ED stat. I ran to the emergency department, as I heard, "Code Amber." When I arrived, I realized immediately that Code Amber meant mass casualty. The first patient I saw had a traumatic leg amputation, while the second had a severe blast wound to her ankle. The next three hours, I spent seeing 35 additional patients. Within two hours, the orthopedic team had seven operating rooms running. Over the next two weeks we worked harder and longer days than ever before. We got to know the victims, their families and their friends. I will never forget the victims' stories and how they have impacted my life. I would like to run in the 2014 marathon in remembrance of the victims I had the privilege of helping and console on that dark day and the days that followed. My participation in the marathon will serve as a symbol of solidarity with those who were so brave and have taught us so much.

Adrian Wright-FitzGerald, 27, Boston

As an Athletic Trainer in Finish Line Tent A, I was profoundly affected by the extreme physical trauma, fear and terror I witnessed, and the complete helplessness I experienced as the events unfolded in the medical tent.

There are no words to express the overwhelming sense of shock and sadness seeing a lifeless, broken body being rolled through the tent as others violently perform CPR to reverse the inevitable.

I believe I am stronger from the experience, but some days I am still overwhelmed by jumbled memories of fear, confusion and blood. I still have anxiety in crowds, jump at loud noises, have difficulty treating severe injuries at work. I don't wish for a second that I wasn't there; I am so glad I was one of the helpers.

I have never been prouder to be a healthcare provider and be part of a medical team that worked seamlessly to save lives. In the aftermath I am lucky to have no physical wounds but I feel like my soul is forever scarred, and part of me will never fully heal.

When I could not return to work for a week after the bombings due to shock, PTSD, anxiety, fear, I was able to run. Slow at first, stopping many times to cry, then longer and longer. Running a marathon has always been a life goal, and I would be honored and blessed to be able to run Boston and turn the heartache we have all suffered into happiness again.

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