On April 15, 2013, two bombs detonated near the finish line of the annual Boston Marathon killing three individuals and wounding several hundred others, including 16 who lost limbs. Disabled Sports USA (DSUSA) created the Boston Strong Adaptive Sports initiative to offer grants and access to events for marathon survivors with permanent physical disabilities.
Five years later, the Boston Strong Adaptive Sports Initiative, which has supported a dozen individuals, is still supporting survivors including Marc Fucarile.
Fucarile was the last Boston Marathon victim to be released from the hospital a little over three months after the event. He was at the marathon as a spectator, particularly to see a friend run. The second bomb that detonated was beside him and took his right leg immediately, significantly damaged his left leg (which has been salvaged with the assistance of multiple surgeries), and resulted in other injuries including shrapnel remnants and traumatic brain injury.
Later that year, Fucarile joined DSUSA at Ski Spec, one of the largest winter adaptive sports festivals in the country. Although he had grown up skiing, he hadn’t done anything since the bombing. “I wasn’t even in a leg yet so I learned to ski, and participated in sled hockey, before I learned to walk,” he said. He returned to the event in 2014 as well as in 2017. Fucarile also skis with Granite State Adaptive Sports, a chapter of Disabled Sports USA based in New Hampshire. Because of the damage to his leg, he is only able to monski at this point “But one day I would like to try standup skiing.”
He continues to monoski, which allows his son to join him on the slopes. “It’s something I can do with my son… we can be on the slopes together.”
Handcycling is another adaptive sport that Fucarile enjoys, one that he took up in New Hampshire. He regularly participates in long-distance events, including half marathons and marathons. He typically enters about four marathons a year and has done the Disney Half, the Boston Marathon, the Marine Corps Marathon, and other marathons in New York, Los Angeles, and Detroit. He has done the Boston event in 2016, 2017, and will again in 2018. It is his favorite event, and not only because it takes place in his hometown. “It is because of so many factors, including the crowd, the time of day, and the route,” he said. “Over the full distance, there are more fans here than anywhere else. The route allows for people to observe and support the runners.”
He does smaller races, like the 5K and 10K variety to lead up and prep him for the marathons. “I really don’t train, I just do” he said. “I know physically what condition I am in.” Although Fucarile spend some time in the gym and other ordinary physical activities like rehabbing houses.
Adaptive sports provides Fucarile with a social activity. “I like being part of a team.” He does help out with the adaptive sports program in New Hampshire as well as help out with kayaking at a camp. He enjoys volunteering and mentoring.
In addition to his adaptive sports activities, Fucarile does some motivational speaking and is also planning to write a book.