Imagine if patients with life-threatening traumatic injuries could rely on advanced stem cell techniques to help reconstruct their limbs or regenerate their muscle and bones. Thanks to the efforts of the Reny family and thousands of likeminded supporters, Brigham and Women’s Hospital is taking initial steps to make this possibility a reality.
When Gillian Reny was critically injured at the Boston Marathon bombing in April 2013, BWH saved her life—and her legs. Grateful for Gillian’s care, her family established the Gillian Reny Stepping Strong Fund in February 2014 to fuel innovations in medical research and care to help patients recover from traumatic, athletic, military, or disease-related injuries.
Since the fund’s creation, more than 3,600 donors around the world have contributed $3.6 million, with many donations coming from group efforts as diverse as a dedicated Boston Marathon 2014 fundraising team and a high school dance-a-thon.
“We hoped we could count on our extended family and close friends to jumpstart the fund,” says Gillian’s mother Audrey Epstein Reny. “However, we did not expect such a generous outpouring of love and support from the greater community as well. We are humbled by this phenomenon and excited about the possibilities.”
With this encouragement, the Renys have set their sights on raising $5 million to fund trauma care and research (see sidebar), and establish a first-of-its-kind trauma center at BWH.
“The ongoing generosity inspires our family, especially because we want to help other trauma victims recover as well as Gillian has,” says Gillian’s grandmother, Esta Epstein. “Every dollar raised will help patients reclaim their lives and step strong once again.”