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Gillian cuts the ribbon while Dr. Betsy Nabel and proud family members look on

“The moment the ambulance arrived at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, following the chaos at the Boston Marathon finish line in 2013, I felt safety, love, and true compassion. No words will ever fully express my gratitude to the doctors and nurses who saved my life and legs.” —Gillian Reny

On April 15, 2013, Gillian Reny stood near the finish line of the Boston Marathon with her parents, Steven and Audrey Epstein Reny, waiting for her sister Danielle to finish the race. Then two bombs went off and a beautiful day turned to heartbreaking tragedy for the Renys and all of Boston.

When first responders rushed the Renys to Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Audrey and Steven were treated for minor injuries while doctors and nurses worked heroically to save Gillian’s life. In the process, they also saved both of her legs.

Inspired by Gillian’s resilience—and forever grateful to the Brigham team that saved her life—the Reny family established the Gillian Reny Stepping Strong Fund in February 2014. Less than two years later, building on the incredible growth and momentum of the fund, Brigham President Betsy Nabel, MD, announced her intention to expand the fund from a virtual program into a physical hub dedicated to collaborative, multidisciplinary efforts in trauma research and recovery. The Gillian Reny Stepping Strong Center for Trauma Innovation opened officially in January 2017 in the Hale Building for Transformative Medicine.

Today, Stepping Strong is a vibrant physical center with renowned medical directors at two of Boston’s most esteemed hospitals and talented innovators at multiple institutions across the city. While Gillian continues her journey toward recovery, she serves as a global ambassador for turning tragedy into hope. And many years after the devastating Boston Marathon bombings, the center is proud to make a significant impact on the lives of trauma survivors worldwide.

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