Marathon bombing survivor honors local hero with the Stepping Strong Hero Award

Marathon bombing survivor honors local hero with the Stepping Strong Hero Award

Gillian Reny with John Mackie, the first recipient of the Stepping Strong Hero Award

On Wednesday, January 25, more than 180 people gathered in BWH’s new Building for Transformative Medicine to celebrate the official opening of The Gillian Reny Stepping Strong Center for Trauma Innovation. Named for Gillian Reny, who was gravely injured in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings, the center is dedicated to collaborative efforts in advancing trauma research and recovery.

BWH President Betsy Nabel, MD, acknowledged Reny’s indomitable spirit: “You are the inspiration for our greatest Stepping Strong milestone to date—the opening of our new center, which will allow us to help more patients like you pursue their dreams to step strong once again.”

Reny has spent the last three and a half years thinking of a way to honor the man who ran to her side after the first bomb went off, and decided the celebration for the opening of the center was the perfect opportunity.

John Mackie, a former soldier in the U.S. Army infantry, was on the scene as a spectator at the 2013 Boston Marathon and quickly responded to Reny and her family. His actions kept her from losing her leg.

“Meeting him was a moment I will never forget,” said Reny. “He kind of jumped into action and came across the street to help.”

Mackie, now a Boston firefighter, was surprised to receive the first Stepping Strong Hero Award, which recognizes extraordinary and selfless acts of courage by everyday citizens.

“He’s so humble, he’s never wanted to be recognized, so I’m really excited to see him finally get the recognition he deserves.”