Issue 24pulse

Rebekah Gregory’s Story of Triumph

rebekah-01By Jacqui D. Sinarle

If there’s anyone who can appreciate the fragility of life, it’s Rebekah Gregory.

As a survivor of the Boston Marathon bombing, Gregory also knows how incredible it feels to overcome tragedy and rediscover the joy of living every precious day.

“Before the bombing, I didn’t realize how much I took for granted,” said Gregory, keynote speaker at the Doctors Medical Center Sports Medicine Symposium on Aug. 1. “Now I want to do whatever I can to make the world a better place, and I want to do everything on a fake leg that I didn’t on two good legs—travel, learn a new dance, hike up a mountain, participate in a marathon—and live my life to the fullest.”

Gregory and her five-year-old son were watching the Marathon with a group of friends on April 15, 2013.

“We got a spot near the finish line and my son was getting bored,” she recalled. “I was worried that he would get lost in the crowd, so I told him to sit on my feet with his back against my shins. A few minutes later, the first bomb went off in a backpack less than three feet behind us.”

Gregory’s body shielded her son from most of the shrapnel, but her legs and left hand were severely injured. Although emergency personnel saved her from bleeding to death on the spot, doctors were ultimately unable to restore her left leg and it was amputated in November 2014.

While the terrorist attack left Gregory with post traumatic stress disorder and a prosthetic limb, she gained a renewed passion to make the most of her life and an unexpected career as a professional motivational speaker. Today, her story of challenges and victories inspires audiences across the country.

“After the bombing I realized that my little voice could do a lot,” Gregory reflected. “Now, with every speech I give, I feel like if I can touch one person in the room by sharing my story, then that person can potentially go out and touch another person.”

One of her most meaningful messages is: Don’t give up.

“It sounds cliché,” Gregory said. “I know that life can be ugly and really hard, but I think if you keep going, you realize how beautiful it can be.”

Gregory’s life has had its ups and downs since the bombing, but she chooses to focus on her blessings: in 2015 she returned to Boston to run a portion of the Marathon, she has a thriving and fulfilling speaking career, and she’s planning to release a book in April 2017. Best of all, she’s married to her college sweetheart, they welcomed a baby girl in May, and her son is healthy and happy.

“For 27 years, I expected to get up and put two feet on the ground every morning,” Gregory reflected. “Now I appreciate every moment because I know how short life is. Our world today is scary, but I still believe there’s more good than bad, and I want to be part of the good.”

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