Boston Marathon bombing survivor Heather Abbott will offer the keynote address Thursday evening during Ogeechee Technical College's spring commencement ceremony.
Abbott will address Ogeechee Tech graduates, their families and friends at 7 p.m. inside Georgia Southern University's Hanner Fieldhouse.
"We are honored to have Abbott address our students this year. She is truly an example of resilience and strength," said Dr. Ryan Foley, OTC's vice president for student affairs.
Three people were killed and Abbott was one of 260 people injured on April 15, 2013, when two bombs went off near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. A jury on Friday sentenced convicted bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to death.
On the day of the race, Abbott and some friends journeyed out on an annual tradition to attend a Boston Red Sox game, followed by a walk to the Boston Marathon finish line to watch the runners and gather at the Forum restaurant. However, she never dreamed the day would change her life forever.
Abbott was struck by shrapnel from the second of two bombs that day, which severely injured her left foot. Strangers Matt Chatham, a former New England Patriots lineman, and his wife, Erin, carried Abbott to safety away from the direction of the bombs and saw her to an ambulance that took her to Brigham and Women's Hospital.
After three surgeries in four days, Abbott was faced with the decision of whether to try to save her left foot or to allow doctors to amputate her left leg below the knee. With the help of other amputees and support from thousands around the country, Abbott made the difficult decision, at the age of 38, to live her remaining years as an amputee using a prosthetic leg.
Just four months following the bombing, she was living independently and returned to her job as a human resources manager on a part-time basis.
Within the first year following her amputation, she started participating again in the activities she loves, including paddle boarding, running and wearing high heels. Abbott currently has four different prosthetic legs and has not let this horrific act of terrorism slow her down. She has become certified as a peer counselor by the National Amputee Coalition and is helping other amputees adjust to their "new normal" as an example of hope and determination.
She is sharing her story with audiences across the country and inspiring others with her thoughtful reflection on her journey.
Abbott will bring that message to Ogeechee Tech graduates and others who attend Thursday's graduation ceremony, which is open only to graduating OTC students, their families and invited guests and Ogeechee Tech faculty and staff.