Boston Strong — “This year is the perfect time for me”

March 31st, 2014

Boston, MA - Siobhan Cooper and her husband Ted had just returned home to Boston after a red-eye flight following a friend’s wedding. They arrived back in their apartment in the Fenway area of the city and laid down to rest at about 2:30 p.m.

Minutes later, their cell phones began buzzing and ringing with calls from concerned friends and family members asking Siobhan and Ted if they were all right.

Siobhan Cooper and Paul Norden.

Siobhan Cooper and Paul Norden.

Siobhan Cooper and Paul Norden.

Siobhan Cooper and Paul Norden.

It was April 15, 2013, and two bombs had exploded at 2:49 p.m. on Boylston Street near the Boston Marathon finish line and not far from their apartment—killing three people and injuring more than 140 others.

“Ted and I are both medical,” explains Siobhan, a Registered Nurse. “He works at Children's Hospital as a critical care doc and anesthesiologist. We live about 5 minutes from the hospital, so Ted and I threw on our scrubs and ran in to help triage in any way we could.”

Among the injured were two brother seriously affected by the blast: Paul and J.P. Norden. Each lost his right leg and has been through multiple surgeries.

“I had the honor of becoming Paul's primary nurse in Beth Israel's trauma ICU [intensive care unit],” Siobhan wrote on her fundraising page. “At first I was working on other victims,” she said, “but I got word that Paul would be coming out of the operating room around 4 p.m., and I cared for him that very moment he arrived in the ICU and on through the weeks that followed.

“Day after day I grew to know better and better his wonderfully loving and tightly bonded family,” she continued. “It was impossible not to love the Nordens. By far, they are one of the most selfless, devoted and loyal group of friends and family I have ever encountered in my nursing career. They were just tighter than tight, and you could hear in their voices and see in their interactions that they would lay down in traffic for one another.”

Siobhan was also impressed by the service members who visited the Nordens and other Boston Marathon bombing in the hospital on behalf of the Semper Fi Fund.

“I cannot say enough,” she said. “This group visited the hospital, and I saw such a visible change in Paul's sense of hope. He truly realized he can live again, and he will live again. There was such a sense of strength and endurance and courage that exuded from the group—they were infectious in the best way.”
Wanting to do more, Siobhan has become involved in fundraising efforts on behalf of the Nordens. A March 22 event at the Yard House restaurant, for example, brought about 60 people together for drinks and appetizers and raised about $600 to help cover the Nordens’ ongoing medical costs.

“I saw Paul in his element, laughing and having a blast with his brother and his pals,” Siobhan said. “This made my heart glow. He was himself, without any tension or anxieties. Sometimes as providers, we're always looking at the patient. And even though I've spent time with Paul and his fiancee Jacqui in social settings, I find myself always trying to look after him, making sure he's doing well in both his mind and his body. At the Yard House, I just let Paul be Paul without checking in on him or worrying. He looked happy, and that is what it’s all about.”

On March 27, Siobhan attended a commemoration by the Semper Fi Fund of the one-year anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombing. Survivors, medical personnel and veterans representing the Semper Fi Fund and America’s Fund came together at the Boston College Club to share stories of courage and recovery.

“The event just reaffirmed how right my choice was to raise contributions for such a worthy fund,” Siobhan said. “Every service member I had the honor to meet that night was nothing but positive, strong and brave, and carried the message of endurance—both physical and in character and attitude. I couldn't be happier to attach myself in any way to this wonderful group of people and to help them to continue to spread their message to others.”

On April 21, Siobhan will be continuing her fundraising efforts in a big way: She’ll be running the Boston Marathon to raise money for the Semper Fi Fund.

“This is my first full marathon,” she said. “I've done five half-marathons, but Boston has always been a dream and a bucket list item for me. This year is the perfect time for me—with the perfect reason for doing it.

“I just want to thank everyone at the Semper Fi Fund and America’s Fund for coming to visit our Boston bombing victims,” Siobhan continued. “I cannot express enough the new life that was given to each of them after meeting these incredibly capable service members, telling stories of their last marathon or their upcoming triathlon. It gave such a sense of hope to the victims—and an overwhelming happiness to the medical staff caring for them.”

Visit Siobhan’s fundraising page