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Audrey Epstein Reny

Stepping Strong Co-Founder Audrey Epstein Reny Delivers 2022 Stepping Strong Symposium Speech

Audrey Epstein Reny serves as Co-CEO/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.

Good evening, everyone.

I am the co-founder of The Gillian Reny Stepping Strong Center for Trauma Innovation at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and it is a great privilege for me to be here with you all today and hear about the groundbreaking work underway at the Stepping Strong Center.

Each year, the symposium is a way for us to showcase the work being done by the researchers in our portfolio, elevate the conversation about trauma-related innovation, and bring together like-minded medical professionals who are working to tackle issues that impact trauma patients. I think you will agree that the focus this year on firearm safety and gun violence is extremely powerful and important.

To begin, I wanted to share brief remarks about the origins of our work:

My family established the Stepping Strong Center in 2014 in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings to express our profound gratitude for the caregivers in departments across the Brigham who worked collaboratively — and in our minds, performed miracles — to save my 18-year-old daughter Gillian’s life and both of her lower limbs.

In establishing the center, we hoped to start a multidisciplinary, multi-institutional research center focused on transforming trauma research and recovery for civilians and military heroes who face the devastation of traumatic injury. We also hoped to raise global awareness about the burden of trauma on society and the lack of federal funding for this neglected public health crisis.

Today, through the efforts of our passionate Stepping Strong medical directors, faculty, and 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.

Today, [keynote speaker] Dr. Sakran told us that his traumatic gunshot injury had inspired his life’s work. Similarly, we are humbled to know that our family’s trauma story from the finish line of the Boston Marathon has fueled a passion that has turned into hope for so many.

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

  • Nearly $27 MM has been raised to date to fuel trauma innovation
  • More than $9 million of these funds were raised by 760 Stepping Strong Boston Marathon runners.
  • In 2022, the team raised a record-breaking $1.7 million.
  • We have funded 42 brilliant Innovator and Breakthrough Award teams, some of whom presented their extraordinary progress today
  • Last spring, the Satter foundation supported the center with a transformative $4 million grant, which will ultimately endow the Stepping Strong Breakthrough Award program
  • We have trained 11 Stepping Strong fellows in injury prevention, plastic surgery, and amputation rehabilitation. We’re excited that our talented fellows are now applying lessons learned about caring for trauma patients in the USA and beyond.

None of this work would be possible without the tremendous support from our philanthropists and runners. In fact, these donors and their supporters raise more than 80% of the funds that support the work you heard about today.

That said, I would like to encourage you to participate in our 2023 Boston marathon weekend fundraising and outreach efforts. This coming April will be particularly meaningful as it marks 10 years since the fateful day that inspired us to start the Stepping Strong Center.

I hope you consider supporting a runner, cheering on our extraordinary Stepping Strong Marathon team, participating in our One Boston Day blood drive, or even joining us by walking or running with the Stepping Strong BAA 5K team on April 15th. You can learn more about all of these activities on our website.

Thank you so very much for your friendship and support.

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