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Nicole Gross

On behalf of: The Brannock and Gross Family

What would you like people to know about how you are doing or feeling now?

It’s hard to believe five years have already past since April 15, 2013. My physical wounds have healed and my scars are a constant reminder of the incredible medical care I received on Boylston Street and Brigham and Women’s Hospital and all that I have overcome.

Though it continues to be a journey, I am staying true to the promise I made to myself that I would remain on the bright side of this tragedy. I believe that what happened to me and my family was for a reason...a higher purpose of some kind. These days I enjoy the simpler things in life and appreciate slowing down to not miss out on what matters most. My husband and I have an adorable 2+ year old son named Caleb and another sweet baby boy arriving July 2018!

What would you like to say to the Greater Boston community in regards to the support you received following April 15, 2013?

Each time tragedy strikes around our country and world, my heart aches for those who have been affected by terror and hatred. I only hope they receive the same impactful support and genuine care like we received from the Greater Boston community. I am eternally grateful for every hand and heart that reached out. Your support saved me from the darkest of times and showed me a kind of love I never knew existed in this world. Though I am not from Boston, the city forever remains my home away from home.

Over the past few years, have you witnessed any acts of kindness on One Boston Day that touched you? If so, what were they and why did you find them meaningful?

It is hard not being from Boston or in the city to witness and connect with the extraordinary acts of kindness surrounding One Boston Day. I am happy to know this day is honored and hope it continues for years to come.

During your recovery, have there been any specific moments that were particularly poignant or meaningful to you?

There are so many meaningful moments during my recovery I wish I could list them all. I tried my best to remove the media from my recovery as it was nothing but a stressor and distraction. Thankfully there was so much love flooding through my hospital door I could focus on more positives. From the hair and nail stylists who came into my tiny hospital room to cut my damaged hair and paint my toes, to the clothing care packages from City Sports. My nurses, therapist and doctors taking time to listen and be a friend, long after my hospital stays. Hundreds of letters from all over the world. Books, pictures and artwork from elementary school children. Having care for our dogs provided during our extended time away. Motivation and inspiration from Navy SEALS. Running events and other fundraisers put together to honor and support my family. Attending the Boston Strong tribute concert and enjoying a break from hospital stays and surgeries. But there is one moment I will never forget that impacted my immediate recovery in the hospital. When Michelle Obama walked into my Brigham and Women’s hospital room just a few days later. She immediately wrapped her arms around my husband and I while leaning down to whisper genuine words of condolences and inspiration.

Are there particular activities or charitable efforts in which you have participated that you’ve found to be especially inspiring or restorative?

The years I have spent longing for a deeper purpose and connection back to our Boston Strong community has recently come full circle.

For a short time, I accepted a fee speaking engagements and opportunities to connect with local non-profits as a way to speak my truth and help me reconnect with my community and pay it forward. After searching for what was next for me, I had an opportunity to connect my past experiences as an fitness trainer and competitive athlete to serve the mission of the YMCA of Greater Charlotte as Project Manager of Events. The years I have spent longing for a deeper purpose and connection back to our Boston Strong community has recently come full circle. My husband, son and I have recently packed up our life in Charlotte and moved back to Knoxville, TN (where we first met during our college swimming days). I now work for the Amputee Coalition as Peer Support Coordinator and am passionate about serving their mission to empower those living with limb loss and limb difference.