CHARLOTTE, N.C. — It’s been seven months to the day since the Boston marathon bombings. For 32-year-old Nicole Gross, whose legs were broken and Achilles tendon severed in the terror attack, the day also holds another, more positive, meaning. She says, “Today also marks a milestone in my family’s recovery. It is the first time I got to see my sister stand up on her new leg for the very first time, and that’s been amazing.”
Gross’ sister, Erika Brannock, had to have her left leg amputated below the knee because of the bombings. Both women, as well as their mother, the people who helped them the day of the attack, and Gross’ husband, gathered at First Baptist Church in Uptown to speak to—and inspire—runners in advance of this weekend’s Thunder Road Marathon.
Gross says, “We’re here to tell the world that we’re not scared to be at a finish line again. Fear is what stunts our growth and our ability to heal emotionally and physically.”
“She does look great,” says Matthews resident Jim Bailer. He trained with Gross before she was injured. He says, “I miss seeing her and wanted to come support her tonight.”
Myers Park resident Jonathan Jones has also trained with Gross. He says, “It’s amazing. It’s been a long journey. I imagine physically, emotionally, it’s been very hard.”
Gross closed with a poem one of her swim coaches gave her in 7th grade. She says it carries new meaning now, as she battles to recover from the bombings. She recited in part, “Life’s battles are not always won by those who are stronger or faster. Sooner or later, the person who wins is the person who thinks he can.”
Saturday, Gross will serve as the race starter and her sister will participate in the 5K race. Their mom, Carol, will run the half marathon and Gross’ husband will cheer them on. It’ll be the first time all four have been at a finish line together.