The Boston Marathon was always special for Bill Richard and his family, who made it a tradition to come out and cheer on the runners at the annual event.
But on April 15, 2013, as Richard stood near the finish line with his entire family, including his 8-year-old son Martin, the group was only steps away from Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who loomed nearby, allegedly with a bomb in his backpack.
The blast killed Martin, the youngest person to die in the bombing that killed three and wounded hundreds. Following his death, a photograph of Martin holding a sign – “No more hurting people” – became an instant, global symbol of heartache.
Bill Richard withdrew following the tragedy, making few public appearances and maintaining his privacy as his family grieved and healed.
Despite all the pain, a year after the tragic event, the Richard family is determined to turn this year’s marathon into something positive, and has started the Martin Richard Foundation to honor their son’s legacy and to give back to the community.
“It became clear over these last few months that we would not run from the event but embrace it, to help us heal, to honor our son and his message, and to pay it forward,” Richard said in an appearance in February, speaking to a group of runners who are taking part in this year’s marathon on behalf of the foundation.
The team of 100 runners, dubbed “Team MR8,” will run for Martin and his family’s message, raising over $884,000, according to their fundraising page.
“We are deeply grateful and humbled by your presence,” Richard said at the event to the supporters in the room.
The organization will invest in education and athletics – two of Martin’s passions – and champion values like teamwork and anti-bullying, according to their website, and give back to future generations.
Bill Richard had his ear drums ruptured in the blasts. Despite two surgeries, he still lives with an excruciating ringing sound. His wife, Denise, was blinded in the right eye by shrapnel. Their eldest son Henry, 11, emerged physically unscathed, while their daughter Jane, 7, lost her lower left leg.
Jane reached a major milestone on her road to recovery in March, receiving a “Cheetah” running leg, according to the family.
“Never self-conscious and always smiling, Jane has worn it to school several times which speaks to the can-do spirit she has displayed over the last 11 months,” the family said in a statement. Larry Marchese, a friend of the family, said the tragic bombing has given the family’s lives an added, special cause.
“They are tough people and they are persevering more and more each day,” Marchese told ABC News. “As time passes, they get stronger. They’ve found purpose.”
The Richards will participate in a tribute ceremony for the victims and survivors at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, gathering with hundreds of others, who will march to the finish line for a moment of silence Tuesday on the anniversary.