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Heather Abbott      

Boston Marathon Bombing Survivor, Amputee & Founder of The Heather Abbot Foundation

On April 15, 2013, what is referred to as Marathon Monday in Boston, Heather Abbott of Newport, RI set out on an annual tradition with six friends. They would attend the Red Sox game, followed by a walk over to the Boston Marathon finish line to watch the runners and gather at the Forum restaurant. However, Abbott would never have dreamed this day would change her life forever.

Abbott was struck by shrapnel from the second of the two bombs that day, which severely injured her left foot. Strangers Matt Chatham, former New England Patriots lineman, and his wife, Erin, carried Abbott to safety away from the direction of the bombs and saw her to an ambulance that brought her to Brigham and Women’s hospital.

After 3 surgeries in 4 days, Abbott was faced with the agonizing decision of whether to try to save her left foot or to allow doctors to amputate her left leg below the knee. With the help of other amputees and the support from hundreds of thousands around the country, Abbott made the difficult decision, at the age of 38, to live her remaining years as an amputee and use prosthetic legs.

Her recovery, as it is for so many other victims of traumatic injury, was a journey through pain, anger, fear, disbelief, self-doubt and questioning. For Heather, the ability to move forward came through the support of family and friends, fellow amputees and the countless strangers who not only sent her cards and letters of encouragement – but who also generously donated to a special fund to help her transition and receive the customized prostheses she needed to live the life she once knew.

Today, Heather is once again doing everything she loves to do, including paddle boarding, running and even wearing high heels!

Through it all, Heather has remained a model of strength and perseverance. Her determination and passion to help other limb loss victims is evident in everything she does. As a certified Peer Counselor for the American Amputee Coalition, Heather is able to provide hope and emotional healing. As a nationally-known motivational speaker, she reminds audiences of the power of positive thinking and the real impact compassionate giving can have on the life of someone in need.

For Heather, The Heather Abbott Foundation is both an obligation and an opportunity to “pay it forward” – to give other amputees who have suffered limb loss through traumatic circumstances the chance to live their life – again.

Speech Topics


Overcoming Adversity

Adopting three key life strategies led to living life again after suffering the amputation of her left leg in the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013. Hear Heather Abbott’s story of resilience following that tragic event—and learn how you can apply her life strategies to your daily living. You can “Live. Your. Life.” again, whatever your circumstances.

Beyond Medical Care: The Often Untold Story of Health Care Professionals’ Impact on the Lives of Trauma Patients

We expect our health care providers to be skilled, experienced professionals who know how to nurse our wounds and treat our illnesses. But what about the less-talked-about side of medical care—the “softer side” of health care? Hear Heather Abbott’s story of recovery and the major impact individual providers can have on a patient’s recovery, especially those who have suffered traumatic injury. Sometimes the road to recovery is marked by more than just medicine.

Disabilities in Today’s Workforce: How Trauma Shaped One HR Executive’s Business Practices

At the time of the Boston Marathon bombing, Heather Abbott enjoyed a high-powered career as a human resources executive with a Fortune 50 company. Key to her job responsibilities was a focus on equal employment opportunity, affirmative action and ensuring the hiring and retention of women, minorities, veterans and individuals with disabilities. Little did Heather know that one day she would become the very kind of employee she was entrusted to protect. Learn how Heather’s professional views changed as a result of her traumatic injury, and how all businesses today can benefit from her experience.

Paying It Forward: Finding the Purpose That Drives Your Life

Prior to the Boston Marathon bombing, Heather Abbott had a career she enjoyed, and the love of friends of family—yet something was still missing. It was, as Heather will tell you, a “passion” in her life—a “purpose” larger than self. Ironically, it would take something meant for evil to help Heather find true meaning to her being. Learn how you can uncover the purpose that will drive your life—and change the lives of countless others.

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