Heather Abbott, whose injuries sustained in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing spurred her to start a foundation which helps amputees get prosthetic devices, will be the commencement speaker at Providence College’s 98th graduation exercises on May 15 at the Dunkin Donuts Center in Providence.
Abbott, who holds a a masters degree in business from PC, is one of five honorary degree recipients to be honored at the commencement. The others are Robert W. Fiondella, PC class of 1964 and the chair of The Phoenix, a leading provider of wealth management services; Dr. Tim Flanigan, an infectious disease specialist and professor of Medicine at Brown University’s Alpert School of Medicine who has treated Ebola patients in Liberia; Rose Weaver, the renowned singer, actor and playwright, and George Wein, a founder of the Newport Jazz and Newport Folk Festivals.
Abbott is a compliance and employee relations manager for Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems in Portsmouth, R.I. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Stonehill College.
In April, 2013, Abbott was struck by shrapnel when homemade bombs exploded near the Boston Marathon finish line. Blown through the doorway of a restaurant, she was carried to safety by Matthew Chatham, a former New England Patriots linebacker. The blast mangled her left foot, breaking her ankle and shattering several bones.
At the hospital, Abbott was visited by First Lady Michelle Obama, who gave her a presidential challenge coin, a token traditionally given to wounded service members and their families. After three surgeries in four days, Abbott’s left leg was amputated below the knee.
Her recovery was helped along by the support of fellow amputees, her many friends and family and strangers. They sent cards and letters of encouragement and donated to a special fund to help her receive customized prosthesis. After she was released from the hospital, Abbott tossed the ceremonial first pitch on Rhode Island Day at a Red Sox game at Fenway Park.
Abbott launched the Heather Abbott Foundation to ensure that amputees obtain the services they need to return to normal living as soon as possible.