Tatyana McFadden Honors Bombing Victim's Family

by Clarissa-Jan Lim

In spite of the looming trial of the Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 30,000 people came out to run in the city's annual marathon, enduring the somewhat chilly weather conditions to participate. But one runner went the extra mile to honor the family of the bombing's youngest victim. After winning the Women's Wheelchair Division, Tatyana McFadden presented her prize to Martin Richard's family as a "symbol of hope."

Crossing the line at 1:52:54, McFadden was presented the traditional golden laurel wreath by Martin's father, Bill Richard during the awards ceremony, but she immediately gave it back to him. She said that she knew the race was not about her — rather, she was thinking about the Richards throughout. She told the Boston Herald:

Just listening to [the Richard family's] story, they have so much strength, courage and hope and I really, really wanted to win today just so I could present that wreath to them and they can keep at their house as a [remembrance] of strength, courage and hope. I was thinking about that the entire race as soon as the gun went off.

McFadden was one of 73 runners — including actor Sean Astin — who participated as a Team MR8 member to raise funds for The Martin W. Richard Charitable Foundation that aims to promote and invest in "education, athletics and community." The foundation was created in honor of Bill and Denise Richard's 8-year-old son, Martin, who was the youngest of the three casualties of the 2013 bombings.

An Olympian and decorated athlete, McFadden was born with a birth defect called spina bifida that prevents proper development of the spinal cord. This was the her third straight win in the marathon's division. Later, the Maryland native told WBZ-TV:

Today it's really about strength, courage and hope, and that's what Boston is about. The people of Boston carry me through the race. They're my second family, the marathon community​.

The marathon took place against the backdrop of Boston Marathon bombing trial, which on Tuesday will mark the beginning of the jury's deliberation of whether 21-year-old Tsarnaev, who, along with his older brother Tamerlan, orchestrated the horrific bombings that killed three and injured 256, will get the death penalty or a life sentence.

Like many other families, the bombings gravely affected the Richards. According to the Boston Herald, Martin's sister, Jane, lost a leg, their mother Denise an eye, and Bill suffered hearing damage.