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They did what they were trained to do: ran toward the explosions to shield and tend the injured and held the hands of 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 experienced an unimaginable loss that day when a bomb killed 8-year-old Martin and injured father Bill, mother Denise, and daughter Jane. The family has expressed its gratitude to the first responders in countless ways, including creating the Martin Richard Foundation, which, in September, launched its first annual 8K race—A Run for Gratitude. According to Bill Richard, McLean’s LEADER (Law Enforcement, Active Duty, Emergency Responder) program, serving those in uniform, seemed like the ideal recipient for funds raised by the event.
“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 Bill Richard. He and his wife created the foundation to promote the values Martin personified: sportsmanship, inclusion, kindness, and peace. “That McLean is a national leader in mental health treatment made the decision even easier,” he said. The race began and ended on September 3, 2018, at the TD Garden, home of the Boston Celtics and Boston Bruins, and it raised $100,000 for LEADER.
LEADER’s Director of Clinical Coordination Wendy Currie, LICSW, said that while the backdrop was unthinkable tragedy, the atmosphere at the race was amazing. “People were celebrating and honoring Martin’s memory,” said Currie. “There was overwhelming support for the family—smiles on everyone’s faces, families running together, funny outfits. I even saw a woman running with her dog in a carriage. It was incredibly moving. People were crossing the finish line in tears.”
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 taken 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 summer 2013, more than 1,000 people have received inpatient services, and between 1,500 and 2,000 have accessed outpatient care. More than 450 men have stayed at the longer-term residence, and about 70 women have been patients at the equivalent facility.
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 values mental and physical toughness, it can be hard for first responders to seek help for themselves. 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.”