BOSTON (MyFoxBoston.com) -- The next time you wonder whether you're capable of something, or second guess yourself, remember Dave Fortier and Lee Ann Yanni. Two Bostonians who had every right to say, "I can't," but who instead are saying, "I can, and I will."
First, we'll tell you about Fortier. Last year, the Newburyport native was running in his very first marathon. At 2:49 p.m., he was just feet from finishing.
"I was just having a great time reflecting on the day, reflecting on why I was there and the reason I was running and then just this huge flash on the left hand side and just this concussion hitting me," he said.
Fortier had been hit with shrapnel and was one of the few runners injured by the blasts. The explosion sent him flying and he ended up in a heap of injured people by the grandstands, but as his head throbbed and foot ached. All he could think about was his wife and two young daughters, who were cheering him on when he turned onto Boylston.
"I remember giving them a big wave, my daughter actually has a picture of it and I continued on down the side. So they knew approximately where I was," he said.
And fortunately, even through the confusion and chaos around him, Fortier was able to think clearly enough to type out a text message to his wife that he was alive.
"They were far enough away not to see the devastation that was caused but they could hear the explosions, they could see the explosions," he said.
Closer to the finish line, Yanni was watching the marathon, too. The runner and physical therapist had only been living in Boston for a couple of months. She went to the race to cheer on one of her new clients. She never could've expected she'd be putting herself in harm's way.
"What just happened? You know looking down and seeing your bone is kind of an eerie situation," she said.
Shrapnel shattered her ankle, severed a nerve and ripped her skin open so wide that she needed skin grafts.
"You know, they told my husband if I had just been turned like a half an inch that the shrapnel, instead of skimming my leg, would've gone straight through my leg," she said.
Months and several surgeries later, Yanni and Fortier would meet at a support group for survivors. And when they learned the BAA was offering them all entries into the marathon, it got them thinking.
"It was kinda like ‘What do you think about starting a running group?' and I was like that is a fantastic idea, let's, let's get that together," Yanni said.
What better way to empower some of the other survivors they'd met than by running this year's marathon? They rallied 25 other survivors who'd been injured in all different ways.
"From burns, to upper arm shrapnel issues, lower leg shrapnel issues. Some people have a lot of more emotional injuries," she said.
They came up with the name Team 4-15 Strong, those numbers signify the date that changed their lives forever, but also, the date that brought them all together.
"We're all pulling together for each other, we all carry each other along the way," she said.
The camaraderie doesn't end there. Marathon Sports actually paired up the 415 group with another group, for training. And that group just happens to be the official One Fund running group. So you've got the volunteers helping the survivors
Volunteers like Ken Gordon said, "As a lifelong Bostonian, I feel a certain kinship with them and a great deal of admiration."
An attorney at a prominent Boston law firm, Gordon did Pro bono work for the One Fund, now he's running in his first marathon, on the One Fund team.
"This has been the most exciting and rewarding endeavor I've ever undertaken," he said.
370 people applied for just 50 spots on the One Fund Team. They had to commit to a rigorous training schedule and agree to raise a minimum of $8,000 for the One Fund.
"My goal is $15,000, which is, seems like a ton, it's one prosthesis," another runner said.
It has required a tremendous amount of hard work, dedication and mental strength. On both team's parts, not too mention running through the pain, but they know, when they watch one another cross that finish line next week it'll all be worth it.
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