Stepping Strong to recovery from the marathon bombing

While the Reny family trains to run Boston’s 26.2 miles, they say it’s their daughter and sister Gillian who is really on the most personal of marathons.

“I remember texting my dad from the hospital – I walked 3 steps today. The next day I walked 26,” Gillian said.

Two years ago Gillian was standing along Boylston Street with her parents, waiting for her big sister to finish the race.

When the bombs went off, Gillian’s right leg was badly hurt and her left leg lost significant muscle; she faced amputation.

But the doctors at Brigham and Women’s Hospital managed to save her legs and the then high school senior began plotting her steps back to the life she wanted.

“My first goal was going to prom, then going to graduation and I really wanted to go to college on time and I was able to do that,” she said.

Her family, forever grateful to BWH for Gillian’s care wanted to give back.

So they started “Stepping Strong” to fund research, innovation and training for limb reconstruction and traumatic injury care.

“Hopefully these techniques will go from the lab to the bedside and we’ll start implementing them and helping patients,” Gillian’s mother Audrey Reny said.

One of the ways they’ve raised money for the fund, is by running. They had a team in last year’s Boston Marathon.

“It was very emotional going down especially as we turned onto Boylston Street, the scene of everything. It was very emotional for everyone. Lots of tears, we held hands,” Gillian’s father Steven Reny said.

And they’ll do it again this year.

“The marathon I ran last year and this marathon have meant a lot more to me both because of my sister and all she’s gone through and because of the fund,” Gillian’s sister Danielle Reny said.

“We set a goal of raising $3 million over the next 3-5 years and we’re just shy of our $4 million mark after just one year,” Audrey Reny said.

They’re well on their way.

So is Gillian who continues to make strides in her recovery.

“Today I only do physical therapy once a week and I’ve started being able to spin class with my friends,” Gillian said. “I’m starting to feel really great. I mean there’s still the daily struggles and some pain here or there but I’m so lucky.”