By Jeff Slovin, Contributing Writer
Northborough – Lifelong Northborough resident and Algonquin Regional High School graduate Lauren Vulcano, 25, was standing with her boyfriend Mark Snickenberger at the finish line of the Boston Marathon April 15, 2013, when the bombs went off. She was just feet away from the first backpack when it exploded. She was struck by nearly 100 BBs, including one that shattered the malleus bone in her ear, and sustained shrapnel wounds on her shoulder. The only thing that saved her from a much more serious injury was that Jeff Bauman, who lost both legs in the explosion, was standing between her and the backpack and shielded her from receiving an even more serious injury.
Vulcano and Snickenberger, who was also seriously injured in the explosion, briefly sheltered at the AT&T store near the finish line before making their way to the medical tent and then on to Faulkner Hospital. She gave several of the BBs, along with her clothes, which were covered in residue from the bomb and the backpack, to the FBI. She has had two surgeries on her ear and has a third one scheduled for July.
The trauma and anxiety from that day have been slowly fading over time, but she still suffers from severe tinnitus and some hearing loss.
Vulcano has received support from a variety of sources during her recovery, including One Fund Boston. Among the items she received were two bib numbers for this year's Boston Marathon. Although she was a noted athlete, playing lacrosse and field hockey for Union College, she disliked running and never considered herself a runner. Vulcano's mother Michele, who had run a number of shorter races, quickly volunteered to run with her, but she was slow to make the decision to participate and considered giving the bib numbers away. She had to wait to be cleared to run or exercise after her injuries, and her dislike for running made her hesitant, but with the encouragement of her mother, decided this was something she had to do.
Asked why she was running, she responded: “I have two legs that work, I am an athlete. Who am I to say no
to this opportunity? There were four people who passed away because of this and don's even have the option to say no, and others who are not healed enough to do this. For all those people who can's, I feel it's my duty to do this.”
Between waiting to be cleared by her doctors to run, and stress fractures from training, her training time was severely limited. Vulcano said she would have given up in Wellesley without her mother's cheerleading and support, and they ended up walking most of the second half of the course. They crossed the finish line together, holding hands, in 6:11.
In the first days after the race, Vulcano insisted this would be her one and only marathon, but as the pains in her legs subsided, she began to look forward to running again, and now considers herself a runner. She is considering running a leg of a 200-mile relay race in September and has been invited to run in the Marine Corps Marathon in October.
Vulcano graduated in May from Assumption College with a Master of Arts in school counseling and school adjustment counseling/social work, and is looking to pursue a career as a school counselor.