skip to Main Content
Audrey Epstein Reny

Stepping Strong Co-Founder Audrey Epstein Reny Delivers 2021 Stepping Strong Symposium Speech

Audrey Epstein Reny serves as managing partner at The Abbey Group, where she is involved in overall strategic planning for new development projects, management of the firm’s portfolio, and marketing strategy and implementation. She has led fundraising efforts and run the Boston Marathon to support many local charities, and founded The Gillian Reny Stepping Strong Center for Trauma Innovation at the Brigham, where she also serves on The President’s Advisory Council.

Good afternoon, everyone.

It is a quite a privilege for me to be here with you all today and hear the about the groundbreaking work underway at the Stepping Strong Center.

As my dear friend Dr. Mitch Harris mentioned, I am the co-founder of the Gillian Reny Stepping Strong Center for Trauma Innovation, which was established in the aftermath of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing tragedy. That fateful day, standing at the Boston Marathon finish line waiting, several members of our family were injured, but none as severely as my precious daughter Gillian.

We learned a lot about trauma in those dark early days of Gillian’s recovery.

  • Nearly six decades ago, a U.S. National Academy of Science report called trauma an unrecognized epidemic. Today, resources remain inadequate to address the scale of this problem—and as Dr. Salim pointed out in his opening remarks, this continues to perpetuate an enormous human and financial cost.
  • Traumatic injuries can happen to anyone, anywhere, at any time—in military combat, on athletic fields, in motor vehicle accidents, and, sadly, as in our case, in terror attacks. And when it does occur, your life changes forever.
  • Each year in the U.S. traumatic injuries account for more than 200 thousand deaths and leave survivors with permanent mental and physical disabilities.

“Through the heroic efforts of our Stepping Strong medical directors, faculty, staff, a brilliant group of clinicians and scientists, and a dedicated community of runners and philanthropists, I am excited to say we are exceeding our goals.”

My family started the center to express our profound gratitude for the caregivers at the Brigham who worked miracles to save Gillian’s life and both of her limbs. In establishing the center, we were also hopeful that we might raise global awareness and start a multidisciplinary, multi-institutional research enterprise focused on transforming trauma research and recovery for civilians and military heroes who face the devastation of traumatic injury.

Nearly eight years later, through the heroic efforts of our Stepping Strong medical directors, faculty, staff, a brilliant group of clinicians and scientists, and a dedicated community of runners and philanthropists, I am excited to say we are exceeding our goals.

I’d love to share just a few highlights “by the numbers” of what we’ve accomplished together since our founding.

  • $25MM has been raised to date to fuel trauma innovation since establishing the Stepping Strong Center
  • $8MM of total funds were raised by 700 Stepping Strong Boston Marathon runners. In the most recent race this past October, the team raised an extraordinary $1.1MM
  • $6.8MM has been granted to 37 Innovator and Breakthrough Award teams, some of whom presented their extraordinary scientific progress today
  • $4MM is the amount of a transformative grant received from the Satter Foundation last spring, which will ultimately endow the Stepping Strong Breakthrough Award program
  • 10 Stepping Strong fellows have been trained to date
  • 3 start-up grants provided to researchers and community partners to launch early-stage research initiatives
  • 3 employees joined our staff last year – among them 2 core faculty members and 1 senior director, resulting in improved infrastructure
  • We have 2 endowed programs: Innovator Award and Plastic Surgery Trauma Fellowship

I am so grateful to each and every person and institution that has contributed to our success. Most of all, I am thrilled to report that the Stepping Strong Center is making a significant impact on the lives of trauma survivors worldwide.

Lastly, as Dr. Harris said in his closing remarks, the Stepping Strong Center is not only committed to translating ideas from the lab to clinical care, but the way we do it is through a true spirit of innovation and collaboration. This same spirit of coming together to doing good for others emerged in Boston following the 2013 bombings and became known as Boston Strong. Today, Boston Strong lives on in the Stepping Strong Center. To this year’s award recipients: Once you win a Stepping Strong Award, we consider you a member of our Stepping Strong family—and we really do mean it!

Back To Top