MODESTO — A Boston Marathon bombing survivor was the keynote speaker at the Doctors Medical Center symposium for Sports Medicine at the Double Tree Hotel in Modesto.
On April 15, 2013, then 26-year-old Rebekah Gregory was sitting with her son at the Boston Marathon finish line when the actions by two terrorists nearly killed her.
“I remember everything from that day. There was blood everywhere, bones that were not even mine. They said it was like a war scene, and it truly was,” Gregory said. “All of a sudden, everything is totally different.”
Her legs took the brunt of the explosion. Her son suffered shrapnel to his head, and a cut to his bone, but was released from the hospital in five days.
But Gregory fought for a year and a half to save her leg. In the end, she could not.
At a moment when so many would be down, Gregory rose up. Before amputating her left leg, she saw a little humor, writing on it, “It’s not you, it’s me.”
“It was a way for me to say ‘Hey, this isn’t going to destroy me. It’s going to make me stronger,'” Gregory said.
This made her the perfect keynote speaker at the second Doctors Medical Center Symposium in Modesto on Monday.
“We really wanted to show how the power of medicine, with sports, and inspiration all come together. And Rebekah is a perfect example of that,” said Dr. Jonathan Pettegrew of Stanislaus Orthopedic and Sports Medicine.
Gregory said it was an honor for her to be able to give back to the medical community, who helped her gain the ability to walk again.
“I went through a lot of therapy. I still go through therapy when my leg is bad. They want to help. That’s my mission too. Everyone does their part in changing the world for the better. And so to give back to some of that, thanks for the people who have done so much for me, in that type of career field, that’s just amazing,” Gregory said.
Since the explosion, Gregory has become a full-time speaker to share her experience. She proudly wears her prosthetic, which she named “Felicia.” She shows Felicia off. She goes shoe shopping with her, she even gets a pedicure from the same nail technician every month.
“If I’ve got to wear a fake leg, I’m going to rock it,” Gregory said, laughing. “I have a daily reminder every time I put on a prosthetic leg, that life is short, and I’m going to appreciate the time I have left, and not only that, I’m going to try to encourage other people to do the same.”
Gregory has since picked up running. She hopes to one day run the Boston marathon.