In the Boston Marathon bombings on April 15, Boston College alum Patrick Downes and his wife Jessica Kensky were injured and both lost one leg. Friends and family have created a website to post comments of love and support and also to raise money for their surgeries and recovery.
Patrick Downes is a 2005 graduate of the Lynch School of Education and his wife Jessica Kensky is a nurse at Mass General Hospital. Both Patrick and Jessica ran the Boston Marathon in 2005. They did not know each other at that time. In 2006, Patrick began dating Jessica when he was working in Washington, D.C., and they got married last year.
On April 15, 2013, they went to the finish line of the Boston Marathon to remember their run 8 years earlier and cheer on the runners at Boston's biggest sporting event. According to Downes' father Brian in Alcalde, an online publication for the University of Texas Alumni Association, the couple was intertwined with their arms wrapped around each other when the bombs exploded.
Since friends and family created the fundraising website, thousands of people have visited the page every day, and now it has now raised more than $400,000 for the couple’s medical expenses. People also uploaded supporting videos to the “Patrick and Jessica Running Again” Facebook page to show their love and support. Dustin Pedroia of the Red Sox salutes Patrick and Jessica from Fenway Park in one of the videos. Boston College students also shot videos to send their wishes and love.
Even complete strangers post comments to support the couple. “Thinking of you both during this difficult time. From looking at your photos, you're a beautiful couple that exudes positive energy. Wishing you both a quick recovery and lots of love.”
Patrick’s cousin Ryan Barrett posted an update about Patrick on the Facebook page: “I visited Patrick today and honestly did not know what to expect, but as I walked in the room the first thing I saw was that million dollar smile of his and it brought so much joy to see him like that after such a long week. Patrick looks fantastic and was full of laughs. The visit reminded me how truly remarkable he is and how everyone's life should be cherished. He really is one of the most amazing people I have ever known and I am so lucky to have him as my cousin."
Patrick’s parents have an unsettling connection to the bombing suspects. Both Brian Downes and his wife, now retired, worked as a guidance counselor and special education teacher respectively for years at the Cambridge Rindge and Latin School, the same high school that the suspects, Tamerlan Tsarnaev and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, reportedly attended. However, the Downes family is not focused on the coincidence. “What I’m thinking about right now is that 99.9 percent of humanity is full of heart and soul and love for their fellow human eings,” Brian says, “and those people saved my son’s life this week.”
Patrick and Jess are also optimistic about their unfortunate circumstances. Patrick reportedly told his father in a visit at the hospital that he sees his experience as a way to better his career as a psychologist. “They are compassionate people with an incredible sense of purpose,” Brian says. “You wouldn’t wish this on anyone, but if any two people can make their way through this, it’s them.”
Jess will undergo at least 10 reconstructive surgeries on her foot, and Patrick has had three surgeries so far. The money raised from their fundraising efforts will go toward prostheses, home modifications, and physical therapy. The cost is far out of pocket for the new married couple. Click here to donate to Patrick and Jess’s fund.
Feature photo screenshot by Mary Yuengert/Gavel Media.