Running to raise awareness
When Dr. Chase Schumacher was paged into work at Brigham Women’s Hospital on April 15, 2013, he had no idea that one of the worst tragedies in Boston history had occurred just minutes before.
“I was informed that there would be a lot of trauma patients arriving at the hospital,” he said during an interview on Wednesday. “I had no idea that the bombing had happened.”
Earlier that morning two Chechen brothers, Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, set off two pressure-cooker bombs near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. Three people were killed in the blasts and hundreds more were injured.
“As you can imagine the scene at the hospital was pretty graphic,” said Schumacher. “We had 39 traumas come in that day. Forty-five minutes after the bombs went off I was already in surgery.”
The doctors and staff at Brigham Women’s Hospital tried to “preserve the limbs of all the patients that came in.”
“It was a very rough day,” said Schumacher. “We had to choose which patients were able to have their limbs saved and which ones required amputations.”
He also met a girl that day who he couldn’t possibly have known would become a huge inspiration in his life.
“A girl named Gillian Reny came in. She was a high school senior,” said Schumacher. “Both her legs were injured. One was severe.”
With her parents Steven and Audrey Epstein Reny, Gillian had been watching her sister, Danielle, run the marathon that day. After the bombs went off, all three were transported to Brigham Women’s Hospital.
While her parents’ injuries were considered to be minor, doctors worked feverishly to save Reny’s legs. In what was described as “a miraculous outcome,” they succeeded. She was able to go to her high school graduation and begin her freshman year at the University of Pennsylvania on time.
“Gillian’s family wanted to do something for the hospital,” said Schumacher. “They began the Brigham Women’s Hospital Stepping Strong Fund.”
With the establishment of the fund, the Renys hope to help future patients with traumatic, athletic, and disease-related limb injuries regain their strength and step strong once again.
“We hope this fund will inspire hundreds, maybe thousands, to continue to come together in celebration of the kindness and generosity of spirit that has prevailed since April 15, 2013,” said Audrey Reny.
Likewise, Schumacher, a 2003 graduate of Notre Dame High School, wanted to do something for Reny’s family. He will be running in his first ever marathon with the Reny family on April 21 as Boston holds it’s first race since the bombing.
“This is going to be a really big day for Boston,” he said. “There are 50,000 runners set to run and security is going to be insane.”
Schumacher will be running to raise money for Stepping Strong in Gillian’s name.
“The money we raise for research is not just going to be going to help people in Boston, but across the country,” he said.
Schumacher sounded a bit less confident about his chances of finishing the race.
“I’m not sure I’ll be able to finish. ...I may have bitten off more than I can chew,” he laughed. “I played football at Notre Dame but other than that I really don’t have much other (athletic) experience. It takes quite a bit of training.”
However, it is obvious that the young doctor from Crowley’s goal that day is not to score a good time or even finish the race.
“We are looking to raise awareness,” he said. “This is for a really good cause.”
Those wishing to donate to the Gillian Reny Stepping Strong Fund can visit https://giving.brighamandwomens.org/stepping-strong.