Look for the Helpers: 10 Heroes of the Boston Marathon Tragedy

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"When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, 'Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.'" —Mister Rogers

In the midst of the carnage following the explosions at the finish line of the Boston Marathon yesterday, people came together to do what they could, even when it put them in danger. Some were doing their jobs, some had specific skills to volunteer, and others just offered what they could to help out. Here are some examples of the good to take the edge off the horrifyingly bad.

1. First Responders

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Boston EMTs were already stationed at the marathon to treat the expected injuries and exhaustion-related maladies that come with any marathon run. Boston police were there for crowd control. Dozen of doctors and nurses volunteered to work medical tents at the marathon. None of them expected to shift into emergency mode, but when the explosions happened, they rose to occasion.  

2. Marathon Runners

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When the bombs exploded, only about half the marathon runners had crossed the finish line. Many of those who were near the explosion ran to help the victims, despite their exhaustion after running 26 miles. As word of the disaster spread along the marathon route, some runners crossed the finish line and then continued running to Mass General Hospital to donate blood. Because of their efforts, and that of other immediate donors, the Red Cross has issued a statement that it has plenty of blood for the patients in Boston right now, and offers a website to help people find friends and family members affected by the tragedy.

3. Boston Residents

People living in Boston, Brookline, and other nearby areas quickly opened their doors with offers to let stranded marathoners and spectators stay at their homes. Specific offers were posted on Twitter and Google Docs to help house family members of the injured and others who weren't able to return home or to their hotels.

4. UMass Nursing Students

Photo by Flickr user Mark Zastrow

Dr. Adrienna Wald brought 30 of her nursing students from UMass Boston to the marathon as volunteers, expecting to treat exhausted runners. In addition to treating marathoners, the students immediately pitched in to help those with serious wounds.

"They did what they were trained to do," said Wald. "Instead of running away, they ran to help."

She said her students assisted at least one person whose leg had been amputated.

"It was a gory, gruesome scene that my students shouldn't have seen at this point in their careers," said Wald. "Who could ever be prepared for this?"

5. Allan Panter

Screenshot from The Today Show

Dr. Allan Panter traveled from his home in Georgia to Boston to watch his wife Theresa run the marathon. He was waiting at the finish line when the blast occurred. He ran to a seriously injured woman and went to work keeping her airway open until she could be taken to a medical tent. He then worked on many people with injuries, mostly leg injuries, to control bleeding. When Theresa crossed the finish line, she was relieved to find her husband helping instead of finding him a victim.

6. Joe Andruzzi

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Former New England Patriots lineman Joe Andruzzi was at the scene of the explosions, as his charitable foundation sponsored runners. In the aftermath of the explosions, he was seen carrying an injured woman away from the site. Andruzzi came by that can-do attitude naturally: Three of his brothers were New York City firemen who responded to the 9/11 attacks.   

7. Carlos Arredondo

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"The man in the cowboy hat" stood out in photographs and videos of the explosions' aftermath, as he pulled debris off people and helped a young man who appeared to have lost both legs. That man in the hat was Carlos Arredondo, a 52-year-old peace activist who was at the marathon to cheer on a runner who was dedicating his race to Arredondo's son, a Marine who died in Iraq in 2004.

8. Anonymous Volunteers

While the police were very busy, these anonymous volunteers stepped up to help direct traffic around the affected area. They are representative of the many other anonymous people who helped out in whatever way they could.   

9. Google

Upon hearing the news of the Boston incident, Google immediately set up a Person Finder application in order to help friends and relatives get updates on not only Boston residents, but marathon runners from all over. You can also contribute information on people if you have it.   

10. Mister Rogers

In the aftermath of the explosions, many people around the United States thought back to their childhoods, and the advice they received from Fred Rogers of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood.

"When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, 'Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.' To this day, especially in times of disaster, I remember my mother's words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers - so many caring people in this world."

The man who had so much influence on a generation of children reached beyond the grave to help us cope and to inspire an attitude so many have in the days after a tragedy like the Boston bombing.

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April 16, 2013 - 2:30pm
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