Seven-year-old Jane Richard showed off her new prosthetic leg four months after Boston Marathon tragedy.
Jane Richard, the little sister of 8-year-old Martin Richard and the youngest victim of the Boston bombings, today revealed her inspirational recovery as her family broke their silence to speak out about their loss.
Exactly four months since losing their son, Bill and Denise Richard, from Dorchester, Massachusetts, said that they still feel the agony of Martin’s death every hour of every day.
But they added that they are inspired by the bravery of little Jane Richard, who lost a leg and needed 12 surgeries after she was hit by the blast as she cheered on runners at the finish line with her family.
They released the heartwarming photograph showing Jane Richard smiling as she stands on her new leg, which she uses with the help of crutches.
When Jane Richard was discharged from hospital a few weeks ago, the family returned home for the first time since April 15; they had made a pact not to sleep there until the family could return together.
“As so many things have been, returning home without Martin certainly made that important milestone bittersweet, but we know he was with us, as he is every moment of every day,” the family said in a statement released on Thursday.
“An hour doesn’t go by that we don’t feel the agony of Martin’s death and the senseless way it came about. The pain is constant and even the sweetest moments can become heartbreaking when we are struck by the realization that <<Martin would have loved this…>>.”
“But it is not all heartbreak for our family, as we are making progress on this long, difficult and painful road forward… Jane continues to be an incredible source of inspiration – and exhaustion. The loss of her leg has not slowed her one bit, or deterred her in any way.”
They said that the brave little girl walked into the home with her crutches on her own .
While she is getting more comfortable with her prosthetic leg, she is unable to wear it all the time – but when she does “she struts around on it with great pride and a total sense of accomplishment”.
“Watching her dance with her new leg, which has her weight primarily on the other leg, is absolutely priceless,” the statement said.
They also provided an update of Henry, the family’s eldest child who escaped harm when the family went to cheer on marathon runners near the finish line four months ago.
The youngster has “continued to be strong, attentive and protective of all of us”, the family said, and has enjoyed a busy summer of camp trips and spending time with friends.
Both of the children will return to school in a few weeks, while their parents, Bill and Denise Richard, said they will start using that time to explore how they can honor Martin’s memory.
“Throughout all that has happened, we have worked hard to maintain our bond as a family,” they added.
“With the love and support of family and friends, including those who were total strangers just four months ago, we feel like we are succeeding.”
The parents did not mention their own recoveries; Bill Richard sustained a shrapnel wound and hearing loss, while Denise needed surgeries for a head injury, which left her missing sight in one eye.
Jane Richard is believed to have been standing on the marathon fence next to the big brother she idolized when the first of two bombs detonated near to the finish line.
Images from before the blast appear to show Bill Richard, a community organizer, holding his youngest children up on the railings as Dzhokhar Tsarnaev allegedly plants his backpack bomb just behind them.
Jane Richard’s eldest brother Henry, 12, managed to escape from the bomb attack uninjured.
It isn’t clear whether any of the women in the photograph is the children’s mother, school librarian Denise Richard, who sustained head injuries and had to undergo brain surgery following the attack.
After her injuries, local reports noted that Jane Richard is an enthusiastic Irish dancer who has attended classes at the Clifden Academy of Irish Dance in Milton since the age of three.
Neighbors said Jane Richard looked up to her older brother and they both attended the Neighborhood House Charter School in Dorchester, where their mother served as the school librarian.
The bombs, described by experts as makeshift anti-personnel devices, were made from pressure cookers packed with shrapnel and ball bearings to cause the maximum injuries to bystanders.
Police believe they were planted by brothers Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26. After their images were released by the FBI, Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed in an ensuing gunfight with police.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was found hiding in a boat outside a home hours later and was treated in hospital for an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound to the neck. He remains in federal prison in Massachusetts and is charged with 30 counts, including 17 that carry the death penalty.