Story URL: http://news.medill.northwestern.edu/chicago/news.aspx?id=220241
Story Retrieval Date: 4/24/2014 10:51:00 PM CST

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James Lange/Boston Marathon spectator

Katharine Lange completed the Boston Marathon minutes before the blasts


3 Bostonians resilient, proud after Monday's bombings

by Jordan Monroe Schultz
Apr 17, 2013


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Maria Teresa Chewning/Boston Marathon spectator

Maria Teresa Chewning (center) celebrates roommate's, Kathleen Donohue (left), Boston Marathon run with boyfriend, Jacob Burke (middle).

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Brett Simon/Boston Marathon spectator

The top photo was taken an hour before the explosions, while the bottom shows the aftermath two minutes after the second explosion.

With tear-filled eyes, Maria Teresa Chewning asked her boyfriend, Jacob Burke, what happened. Just seconds before the second explosion, he covered up his true suspicions: “It must be electrical. Don’t worry.” As the next bomb went off, Jacob shielded Maria from the blast. White smoke filled the streets. People ran in chaos.

In the midst of the insanity, the couple was reunited with Maria’s missing roommate who they saw receive a marathon medal just seconds before the first explosion. To escape, Jacob led the girls through barricades, other runners with bloodstained bibs and hundreds of confused and disoriented participants and spectators. They reached Maria’s apartment. While they had lived the tragedy, it was CNN that provided the magnitude of the event.

Maria and Jake are just two of thousands of spectators that gathered to support an event that Maria says is “celebrating human accomplishment and unity.” The couple’s encounter with tragedy, however, is one of valor.

As a fellow alumnus of Boston College, I am proud of their resiliency. I, like so many other BC alumni, spent Marathon Monday scanning Facebook photos hoping to relive my college years from afar. One image from this year’s marathon stands out: a former roommate’s younger sister, Katharine Lange, raising her arms triumphantly as she conquered the famous 26.2-mile race.

As social media reports of the bombings overran my “news feed” just minutes after seeing Katharine’s photo, my heart sank. I was afraid for the safety of not only Katharine but also the seemingly thousands of BC community members who flock to Boston to celebrate or run the race. My fear only emboldened my desire to return to be with my Eagle family.

Katharine conquered the marathon in 3 hours and 49 minutes. James Lange, Katharine’s brother, was standing alongside his sister in the media area waiting for Katharine’s friend to join them when he heard the blasts. While Katharine began to panic, James remained calm reassuring friends and family members of their safety by phone. Neither of them saw the blasts.

As the siblings were ushered away from the scene, Katharine grew increasingly fearful for her missing friend who had not crossed the finish line before the bombs inflicted chaos. James skillfully contacted Katharine’s friend’s family by phone, who had been assured of her safety.

Still uncertain of what actually occurred, the siblings trekked to James’ apartment. As they passed other hurried race participants and fans, they heard rumors of bombs and explosions at the finish line, but James was still skeptical. Proof was delivered in his living room. “I was naïve,” James said. “I didn’t realize the magnitude until seeing CNN.” James returned to work today and is starting to feel normal, he said.

I feel as James does: Our fear has transformed into pride. Pride for the city and our alma mater.

Brett Simon, who was at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel just hundreds of feet from the second explosion, is a lifelong resident of Boston. Hoping to order an “On Bended Knee” vodka cocktail from the hotel’s M Bar, Brett was interrupted by the blasts before he could catch the bartender.

In fact, the bar was so packed that if three people had not left their seats only minutes prior, he would have been directly in an explosion’s trajectory. Thankfully, a SWAT team took control of the situation and evacuated the hotel’s patrons to safety. But Brett still remains fearful. Today, “an ambulance came barreling down the street going the wrong way, and I just freaked out,” he said.

Carthasis will finally come when Brett returns to M Bar, he said. “I need to be back there and think about it in that space.”

As we continue to receive details about the attack, I hope we remember the stories of Maria, James, Brett and the others. Their thoughts and actions illuminate a basic emotion that we often lose in the constant search for more information: empathy. We must be proud of their reactions in the face of chaos and tragedy. Boston and the many that call it home are resilient. As Maria said, “It is that greatness that comforts me, knowing that we can withstand the fear and persevere.”