I was on my way back from an interview when I received a text message from my mom: “The explosions, so sad.”
I had been conducting interviews and getting video for the past few hours, for a story I am working on for May. I hadn’t even looked at my phone in that time, so I had no idea what she was talking about. I immediately logged onto Twitter, hoping not to find anything, but unfortunately bracing for the worst. The words starting jumping out at me- “injuries,” “bombing,” “panic.” It was hard to believe. As many terrible things and tragedies we see, or report on, these horrific events always catch me off guard.
As the news slowly sank in, my mind quickly went to my runner friends. I didn’t know anyone running in the Boston Marathon, but I do know plenty of people who love to run. And therefore I know that an event like the Boston Marathon is an amazing opportunity- something many of them strive to do themselves someday. I see it as an enormous accomplishment, and a celebration- for the runners and for those watching. I know the feeling I get when I see people compete in the Hy-Vee Triathlon, or the Twin Cities Marathon, and I imagine the Boston Marathon to carry that same, if not bigger, inspirational feeling. So to see something so horrific and senseless occur here (anywhere, for that matter) really hit me hard. And when I logged to Facebook, or Twitter, I could see I wasn’t the only one.
If you watched your local news tonight, I am sure you saw a story or two about the “local connection” to the tragedy- someone who was there, or had family or friends there witnessing the terrible event. I can’t imagine hearing the news of something so terrifying and gut-wrenching, and then realizing that someone you know and love or care about is there seeing it, and living it.
When Terril VanderKallen came to that realization, she fell to the floor. She knew someone running in the- someone that was running for her 4 year old son Kingston.
You may remember Kingston- I did a story with him and his family about a year ago. (CLICK HERE for that story.) Kingston was born blind, and deaf. He born with a cleft lip, nose pallet, and then he had some issues with his diaphragm. He wasn’t able to eat anything without a feeding tube. The doctors said he could never communicate, walk or talk. But Kingston has proved them all wrong. Kingston still cannot see, and is legally deaf, but he is walking and communicating.
I recently caught up with Kingston and his family again- to see how much has changed in just a year, and follow up with how their lives are now. It was amazing seeing this inspirational family again- especially little Kingston. Besides Kingston’s progress, we also talked about all of the support the family has received over the years. Many of those prayers, thoughts and help come from complete strangers. One of those one-time-strangers is Susan Kakaitis. Terril still has never met her in person (Susan lives in Tennessee)- but they talk every day. Terril says Susan is an amazing support system for her and Kingston, even with the distance. In her latest show of support, Susan decided to run the Boston Marathon, for Kingston. It was an incredible show of support and love.
Thankfully, Susan was not hurt in today’s explosions. She was stopped at mile 20. But how many people were like Terril and Susan today? Running to show support and love, and hope, only to reach the finish line and be met by horror. It has turned into another day we will never forget- but not in the way it was supposed to be- not as a day of overcoming odds, showing strength, and striving to be great- but of fear, and death and pain. As I hear the reports, see the pictures, and even share people’s stories myself, I will try to remember those who are still overcoming the odds, still showing that strength, and are still striving to be great through it all. I will focus on the stories of those who ran towards the explosions to try and help someone in need; believe in the stories of runners going straight to donate blood at the local hospital; and keep my faith in humanity when I hear of people opening their homes, giving their time, and doing whatever they can to help a complete stranger affect by this terrible event.
I am working on that second story about Kingston in the days ahead. Right now it is set to air on the 13th of May. So make sure to tune in to see how Kingston is now giving back, and what his sacrifice means to his family and to him.