Boston Marathon bombing survivor, author, and Katy resident, Rebekah Gregory wouldn’t have survived and thrived to become who she is now without the support of loved ones and friends.
KATY MAGAZINE | May 2018
By Lacey Kupfer Wulf Opening photo by Anetrius Wallace
In April 2013, two homemade bombs exploded near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. Among those injured by the first bomb, Katy resident Rebekah Gregory says, “Right after the bombing happened, I was pinned to the ground, my left leg was on fire and I was lying in a pool of my own blood. . . . I truly thought I was going to die that day.”
Rebekah and her then five-year-old son Noah were rushed to the hospital for treatment. Fortunately, Noah stayed in the hospital for only five days, but Rebekah’s injuries were far more extensive. Her physical and their mental battle had just begun, and she couldn’t do it alone.
A Mother's Love
For a mother, one of the worst things to hear is that your child is badly injured. “It absolutely tears your heart out when you know one of your children is hurting,” Tina says. “I have wished that I could take her place more times than I can count.”
After a week in a medically induced coma, the first person Rebekah saw when she opened her eyes was her mom. “Seeing her meant that I was going to be okay no matter what. I’m not sure if I would’ve believed that if the circumstances were different and she hadn’t been there, but she was,” Rebekah says. “Throughout my entire life my mom has been my constant, and a bomb going off at a marathon halfway across the country didn’t change that.”
From the very beginning of her recovery process, her mother has stood by her side, helping to carry Rebekah’s load.
Visiting her daughter every day in the hospital, Tina immediately became a full-time caregiver after the bombing. Even after Rebekah came home from the hospital, Tina acted as Rebekah’s nurse and chef and Noah’s daily caregiver, taking over all responsibilities for everything Rebekah needed. Rebekah remembers, “I was completely helpless, but just like always, my mom stepped in and was my strength when I couldn’t see how I was going to get through another day.”
Out of anyone who could care for Rebekah, no one could have done it better than her mother. Tina says, “Physically, she needed someone who knew her needs and was ‘tuned in’ to what was happening around her.” Eventually, Rebekah decided to amputate her leg, which relieved her of nearly constant pain.
Mental and Emotional Recovery
While she had to recover from her physical trauma, Rebekah also had to face the mental and emotional trauma that she and her son had endured.
Rebekah and Noah both experienced PTSD from the bombing. However, Rebekah says, “Knowing my mom was there gave me an overwhelming sense of peace. I didn’t have to fight alone. She was in my corner and we were ready to face whatever was next together, no matter what.”
Through treatment and their faith, both Rebekah and Noah have found peace in the aftermath. Since then, Rebekah has married her college sweetheart and had a daughter of her own.
On April 20, 2015, Rebekah crossed the finish line at the Boston Marathon with her new prosthetic leg.
After Rebekah’s first interview 56 days after the bombing, Tina told her daughter that she could help others through her experience. Rebekah remembers, “My mom came to me and said, ‘I feel like God is trying to use your testimony in a big way. Maybe this is a platform for you to help and encourage others through your struggles. Maybe you need to start speaking out.’ . . . Although it’s been difficult I know that my mom was right.”
Rebekah has shared her story through speaking engagements and her book entitled Taking My Life Back, which was released in April 2017. She has been able to reach people around the country with her message of hope and healing following trauma.
Perhaps most significantly, as a result of her son’s and her own experience with PTSD, she knew she had to assist others in their recovery from trauma.
In February 2018, Rebekah and her husband Chris founded Rebekah’s Angels to help children facing PTSD. From increasing awareness to finding the best PTSD therapists and giving treatment grants to reduce costs, Rebekah’s Angels works to bring peace and healing to children who have experienced trauma.
As a member of the board who helps with administrative duties, Tina still plays an active role in supporting her daughter and her new mission. She says, “It makes me so very proud! She and Chris have worked so hard on the foundation. . . . Simply amazing.”
A True Hero
No matter what life throws at Rebekah, she knows she will have her support system, including her mother, to buoy her up. She says, “I can only hope that my own kids will look at me in the same light as I see my mom in one day, because she really is my hero.”