Martin Richard Foundation: Helping Those Who Help Others

June 14, 2019

They did what they were trained to do: ran toward the explosions to shield and tend to the injured and comforted the frightened as they were transported to waiting ambulances. The first responders were among the biggest heroes of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing.

The Richard family suffered an unimaginable loss that day when a bomb killed 8-year-old Martin Richard and injured his parents and sister. Despite their loss, the family has expressed their gratitude for the selfless efforts of first responders in countless ways, including supporting McLean Hospital’s LEADER (Law Enforcement, Active Duty, Emergency Responder) program through the Martin Richard Foundation.

In September of 2018, the foundation launched its first annual 8K race—A Run for Gratitude. According to Bill Richard—Martin’s father—LEADER, which provides mental health care to those in uniform, was the ideal recipient for the funds raised by the event. The race was held on September 3, 2018, at the TD Garden, home of the Boston Celtics and Boston Bruins, and it raised $100,000 for LEADER.

“I was impressed with LEADER for many reasons, particularly its inclusiveness. It serves every type of first responder—police, EMTs, fire, military—with no regard to rank or type of trauma,” said Richard. “That McLean is a national leader in mental health treatment made the decision even easier.”

Bill Richard at the future site of Martin’s Park

Richard, at the future site of Martin’s Park, a children’s playground in Boston dedicated in memory of his son

LEADER was launched shortly after the marathon tragedy at the request of former Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis, who was concerned about the psychological toll of the bombing and other traumatic events on first responders. It offers mental health and addiction treatment specific to the needs of those whose work puts them face-to-face with trauma on a regular basis. Since the program began in the summer of 2013, more than 1,000 people have received inpatient services through the program, between 1,500 and 2,000 have accessed outpatient care, and more than 450 men and about 70 women have received longer-term residential care.

First responders can be more vulnerable to mental health issues because of their constant exposure to injury, death, danger, and grief. And because the culture of first responders values mental and physical toughness, it can be hard for them to seek help for themselves. Accordingly, confidentiality is a critical component of the program.

“We are tremendously grateful to the Richard family for choosing to support LEADER,” said McLean President and Psychiatrist in Chief Scott L. Rauch, MD. “The foundation’s effort to shine a light on gratitude and the heroic work of first responders is deeply meaningful to McLean and the broader community.”

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