Mike Mendoza and fellow athletes in a group photo after an event

2019 Boston Marathon Preview

“Let’s show them just how Boston Strong we really are!”

When 37-year-old physical therapist Lee Ann Yanni, a survivor of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, runs the 2019 Marathon on Monday, April 15, she’ll be carrying with her the memories and impact of that tragic day.

“I had two patients that I had been treating that were running the marathon,” Lee Ann recalled. “My husband Nick and I were standing in front of Marathon Sports when one had just finished. We were about to go find her when the first explosion happened. The first thing that went through my head was, ‘Why would there be fireworks at the four-hour mark? This isn’t Disney!’

“I felt something warm brush against my leg,” she continued, “and looked down to see my bone sticking out. It felt like a hose was attached to my leg, because the blood was just pouring. It was about 10 seconds later when the second explosion happened and I tried to hop into the store. My husband ran into the store and started grabbing shirts and shorts to make tourniquets.”

37-year-old physical therapist Lee Ann Yanni, a survivor of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing.
Lee Ann Yanni

Lee Ann underwent three surgeries in five days to repair her fractured left fibula. Barely six months later, on October 13, 2013, Lee Ann ran her first marathon, finishing the Chicago marathon in 5:43:39. 

Additional marathons followed, including the 2014 and 2015 Boston Marathon and the 2016 Marine Corps Marathon (MCM) in Washington, DC. This year in Boston, she’ll be running to support the Semper Fi Fund, which began a special relationship with the Boston survivors just days after the bombing.

“I first heard about the Semper Fi Fund when they came to our survivors meeting,” Lee Ann recalls. “They helped us understand some of the PTSD symptoms we were feeling was normal and that none of this was our fault – we were gonna be ok someday, it was just going to take time. They instantly made us feel like family.”

Lee Ann also raised money for the Fund when she ran the 2016 Marine Corps Marathon (she was pregnant during the 2017 MCM, and so didn’t run that year).

Lee Ann Yanni finishing MCM
Lee Ann Yanni running marathon.

“I loved the whole experience,” she says of the MCM. “Being around these amazing servicemen and women and being at the Semper Fi Fund pasta dinner the night before, it all gave me chills. Being a physical therapist and knowing those with prosthetics from the Fund has intrigued me as a clinician. I know how much the Fund helps in any physical and emotional way to allow for those to participate in a wide variety of activities that allows for healing.”

While the horrible events of 2013 will never be forgotten, Lee Ann has chosen to embrace a positive view of that tragic day.

“My husband’s and my lives will never be the same after that day, but we’ve formed friendships that are just as strong as family,” she says. “Paths might have never crossed if it wasn’t for that day. I am so grateful to all those at the Semper Fi Fund who keep us in their lives six years later.”

Looking ahead to the 2019 Marathon, she adds: “Let’s show them just how Boston Strong we really are!”