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“Oftentimes, in a terrible situation, whether it is a mass casualty event or something more commonplace like a car accident, it is the civilians, the everyday strangers on the scene, who make the real difference. That was the experience I had when John Mackie, an everyday citizen, jumped into action to put tourniquets on my legs to try to stop my bleeding—which, in turn, helped save my life.” —Gillian Reny

The Stepping Strong Center community is full of heroes—from our medical caregivers and researchers to runners, volunteers, and ordinary people who go above and beyond the call of duty to transform trauma care. It is this last category that spurred the Reny family to establish the Stepping Strong Hero Award: an annual award that recognizes extraordinary and selfless acts of courage by everyday citizens.


John Mackie: 2017

Mackie, a former soldier in the U.S. Army infantry, was on the scene as a spectator at the 2013 Boston Marathon. When the first bomb went off, he quickly ran across the street to apply tourniquets to Gillian’s severely injured legs. His courageous and selfless actions helped to save her life that fateful day. Mackie, who now works as a firefighter for the Boston Fire Department, was honored as the first recipient of the Stepping Strong Hero Awards at the dedication ceremony for The Gillian Reny Stepping Strong Center for Trauma Innovation.

Shane O’Hara: 2018

Shane O’Hara was working at Marathon Sports on Boylston Street, right near the Boston Marathon finish line of the Boston Marathon, when the bombs went off. As the store manager, he first made sure his employees were ok and then shifted into action. He ran outside, provided clothing to be used for compression and as tourniquets, and brought several bombing victims into his store and tended to them while they awaited transport to area hospitals. He did not leave the scene until the victims and employees were all safely out of the store.

Edward Jolicoeur: 2019

Edward Jolicoeur (center) and Adam DiFlaminies were working a construction job when a traumatic event occurred. Adam was in the basement on a lift, working with a grinder. Edward was on another floor and happened to head down to the basement to retrieve more lights. When he arrived, he saw a horrific site: Adam was on the lift, cut at the neck by the grinder, bleeding profusely. Edward sprang into action, bringing Adam down off the lift and stuffing his wound to stop the bleeding. He saved his life in the process.

Morgan Stickney: 2021

Morgan Stickney is a 2-time gold medal Paralympic swimmer and the first
patient to undergo a bilateral Ewing amputation, due to a rare vascular
condition. Morgan has courageously faced adversity, overcome
insurmountable challenges, and set an example for what it means to be
strong and limitless.

Shaun Melendy: 2023

Shaun Melendy, a Coast Guard veteran, was hit by a distracted driver while riding his motorcycle. When he awoke from a medically induced coma, he saw Dr. Matthew Carty who knew that Shaun would be the perfect candidate for a historic surgical procedure. Shaun is the first patient in the world to lose an upper limb to traumatic injury and undergo the Ewing amputation procedure, which maintains the connection between Shaun’s brain and muscles, allowing him to operate his new limb as if it were natural.

Tariq Ramsey: 2024

In 2023, through PowerCorpsBOS, Tariq Ramsey participated in a Stop the Bleed training hosted by the Stepping Strong Center. Only days later, Tariq (second from the left) found himself using these skills to control blood loss after his brother, Zahir (far right), was traumatically injured by a firearm.

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