Studying, recovering, but mostly just enjoying life: that's how a very grateful Boston Marathon survivor Mery Daniel plans to spend her summer.
Yesterday, during a celebration in New York City's Central Park, she moved closer to at least two of those goals, by appearing at the Achilles International 11th annual Hope & Possibility Race.
"It's to raise awareness of people with disabilities and grave injuries and let them know that life goes on," said Daniel, 31, whose dream of becoming a doctor was temporarily put on hold when she lost her left leg, and much of her right calf, when the first of the two Boston Marathon bombs erupted on April 15.
Before she can care for sick kids, she needs to learn how to balance on her new prosthetic leg.
"I was at finish line," Daniel told the Herald yesterday, "but I don't remember much. Even after I got to the hospital, I don't remember anything. I may have lost consciousness."
She spent many weeks at Massachusetts General and Spaulding Rehabilitation hospitals, where her 5-year-old daughter came to visit.
"She knew about the bombs. She had seen it on television," Daniel said.
When Daniel, a medical school graduate who hoped to start her residency this fall, returned to her Mattapan apartment, she found that the stairs were too steep to safely navigate.
Now living in the Boston's South End, she said she's cheered by her new neighbors.
"They recognize me from the television and newspapers," she said. "They've been really kind."
Still, the experience has changed this fiercely independent woman who arrived in the United States from her native Haiti as a teenager with limited English.
"I've learned a lot about myself," she said. "Getting up from a chair, walking, running, you don't realize how important these things are until you can't do them.
"I can't do a lot of the things I used to take for granted," she said.
"I need so much help, just with things like getting in and out of the shower," she said. "You learn to appreciate things more."
This weekend, she took that sense of appreciation to New York, where she celebrated with other amputees who are determined to live active lives.
"It was great to meet everyone," she said about the Achilles International gathering. "I got a medal and an award."
To contribute to Daniel's recovery, go to www.gofundme.com/merydaniel. ___
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