Marathon survivor strives to inspire

Marathon survivor strives to inspire

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BOSTON ( -- Nobody could ever blame Heather Abbott if she just wanted to be left alone, but that's not Heather.

Heather has been on the cover of People Magazine and celebrities like Beyonce, James Taylor and the first lady visit her.

She lives in Newport, Rhode Island and is 38 years old. She grew up in Lincoln, Rhode Island and went to Stonehill College for her undergraduate degree and then to Providence College for her MBA.

On the day of the marathon, Heather, and a group of friends were celebrating a tradition. Patriots Day in Boston; they went to the Red Sox game and then Boylston Street for the marathon finish. On her way into the Forum Restaurant, she heard the first explosion.

"I think as this time of the year is approaching it's kind of reminding me what I was doing last year at this time and kind of realizing that I had such a short time left with my two legs," she said.

Heather lost her left leg below the knee, a life changer for anyone.

Especially an active runner, swimmer, paddle boarder, kickboxer, and zumba-ist. Months after the bombing, while still in the hospital, Heather gave us all a reason to cheer out loud. She debuted her new prosthetic leg, in 4 inch heels.

"It was part of getting back to the person I am, so it was really important to me and I think its great that people ask me all the time if they meet me, they will say, do you have the high heel on?" she said.

She makes it look easy, but it's anything but. Psychical therapy is like a second job. There's challenges you would expect, and some you might not. Cobblestone streets, groceries and  getting up for a drink of water at night are more difficult now.

It's that kind of determination that has made Heather somewhat of a celebrity herself. She sat down with our Ted Daniel and some people recognized her and offered words of support.

"Someone like this really handles it well and really uses it to help other people. I don't know if you can make it better than essentially what she's doing," Rick Brandariz of Portsmouth said.

And it doesn't hurt to have a drink named after you. At the Midtown Oyster Bar in Newport they serve "Heather's Tail." It consists of vodka, prosecco and a few other interesting ingredients.

If you visit Newport this summer you may see Heather running, paddle boarding or just hanging out with friends. If she's not around she's probably somewhere sharing her story, or counseling other amputees.

"I'm not going to change my life because of what happened, I'm really determined not to do that," she said.

That determination is what defines Heather Abbott. She is Boston Strong.

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