A makeshift memorial on the sidewalk on Newbury Street near the site of two bomb explosions that occurred during the Boston Marathon, April 18, 2013.
ERIC THAYER/New York Times/Redux

How Boston marathon bombing survivors celebrated Valentine’s Day


Two survivors of the Boston Marathon bombings celebrated Valentine’s Day in a very special way at Copley Place, near the site of the attack last April. 

Jessica Kensky enlisted the help of an organization called NEADS to plan a surprise for her husband Patrick Downes. The couple stood near the finish line when the bombs went off during the marathon and were seriously injured. 

Downes thought he and his wife were participating in a video about his wife’s service dog, Rescue, at the shopping center, but when a group of dancers began to gather around a woman singing, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” Downes quickly realized that his Valentine’s Day surprise from his wife included fellow survivors, nurses and social workers who helped their recovery. 

“The special part for me was all the familiar faces in the group, the majority of which we’ve met through this process, through the last 10 months,” Jessica told Boston’s CBS affiliate, WBZ. “They were part of our recovery so do something where we are all dancing and celebrating, and not doing our wound care and dressing changes. It’s just really fun.”

Friends, family members, and members of NEADS, an organization that provides service dogs for disabled Americans, participated in the flash mob to offer support for the couple and other bombing survivors. 

“This was a way for all of those who are still reeling from the impact of that horrendous event to say thank you to Boston – thank you for the incredible support you continue to show, and for being a city that is so resilient,” NEADS organizers told WBZ. 

“There have been so many people that have come together over these last months, out of the city and the larger community and that’s something to be celebrated, because it is a wonderful product that has come out of a tragedy,” Downes said. “We continue to be so grateful for the community that surrounded us… People have treated us with tremendous amounts of love and care, and we wouldn’t be there without them.”