AC360 Producer Chuck Hadad spent a year capturing the inspiring journey of Boston Marathon bombing survivor Adrianne Haslet-Davis. Here he talks about how Boston rallied around her after the attack. You can watch “CNN Special Report: The Survivor Diaries” Tuesday, April 8th at 10pm ET on CNN.
Adrianne Haslet-Davis lost her lower left leg in the Boston bombings. She and her husband Adam were just steps away from the second blast and shrapnel tore through both of their bodies. While the couple survived, the damage to Adrianne’s heel and Achilles tendon was so severe, doctors had no choice but to amputate.
“We have been faced with many challenges and our friends have stepped up their game and rocked the pants off of unconditional love, along with our families,” said Adrianne. “Learning … who will support us in our dark hours, it means the world.“
While family and friends formed the backbone of their support system, Adrianne and Adam also credit their hometown of Boston with helping them get through those dark hours. “The city lifted us up,” said Adam. “We’ve met some great people after this who've opened their hearts to us.”
Adrianne and Adam detail their journey as survivors of the Boston bombings in a new documentary titled “The Survivor Diaries,” which premieres on CNN on April 8th at 10 p.m. ET.
From Boston’s sports teams, to the Mayor, to strangers that recognized the couple from television interviews, Adrianne and Adam drew inspiration from people across the city. One night soon after Adrianne was released from the hospital, a man they'd met at a restaurant handed them his medal from a past Boston Marathon. “He ran home and gave me his 2009 marathon medal that he ran 26.2 miles to earn,” said Adrianne. “That he is willing to give it to us speaks volumes on the spirit of Boston.”
Adrianne’s first, of many, experiences in front of a sporting crowd came at a Boston Bruins playoff game. Just weeks after the attacks, before Adrianne had been fitted with a prosthetic leg, the team invited her to wave a “Boston Strong” flag in front of thousands of fans. "I wheeled out onto the ice and they just went crazy and I just felt such an outpouring of support, not just for myself, but for anyone else who had been through (the bombings)," she said.
Adrianne was also invited by the New England Patriots to walk through the tunnel and on to the field with other bombing survivors at the team's opening game of the season. "Since the marathon, I've had a huge outpouring of support from Boston ... and even people all over the world, that have wished both myself and Adam and the other survivors the best of luck," said Adrianne. "Out of that, I've had some pretty amazing opportunities come my way."
While all of Boston's teams reached out in support of bombing survivors, it was the Red Sox that inspired Adrianne and Adam the most. Some players and coaching staff visited them in the hospital in the early days of their recovery. The team had ended 2012 in last place and as the 2013 season progressed, and the Red Sox kept winning, they became a metaphor for the city as a whole – knocked down but ready to fight its way back.
Adam said it was the Red Sox that helped coin the phrase "Boston Strong" – it became a rallying cry that the couple took very much to heart. "We’re not going to let (the bombings) define us. This is not going be the defining moment. It’s the recovery that’s going to be the defining moment. It’s going to be our recovery that’s our story, it’s not going to be the attack."
The Red Sox went on to win the World Series at home and their storied season took on greater meaning in a city already fanatic about baseball. "It feels like we won the World Series ... I feel like we as a city won it," said Adrianne. "It wasn’t just the guys on the field, it felt like all of us were on the field when they won and I think that can only happen in Boston." The couple was honored to be invited to be part of the Red Sox World Series parade.
Beyond the special opportunities extended to Adrianne and Adam, they say it's Boston's sense of community that has had the biggest impact on their recovery. "The bombing has made me love the city more. I think that sounds weird to say out loud but it made me realize how a group of people can come together and fight back with kindness and generosity and outpouring of support," said Adrianne. "It made me realize how much a city can pull together. And what you get from that, what I’ve received from that, is pretty incredible."
Editor's note: Anderson Cooper is live from Boston tonight on the one month anniversary of the attack. He'll speak with Adrianne Haslet-Davis and show the first installment of a special series on her recovery.
We first met Adrianne Haslet-Davis a week after the Boston Marathon bombings. She had been standing so close to the second explosion that it actually launched her into the air.
“I remember the air hitting me and the impact of the air hitting my chest and stomach and flying through the air and then landing,” she said. “I sat up and tried to move, and I said … there's something wrong with my foot.”
The impact had blown away a large portion of her left foot. Without the heroic work of her husband Adam, who had just returned from a tour in Afghanistan with the Air Force, and first responders, she likely wouldn’t have survived.
Marissa Alexander, a 31-year-old mother of three, is facing a mandatory 20 years behind bars. She had pinned her hopes for freedom on a motion for a new trial; that motion was denied Thursday in a Florida courtroom.
In late April, Alexander spoke to CNN as an inmate in the Duval County Jail in Jacksonville, Florida. "This is my life I'm fighting for," she said while wiping away tears. "If you do everything to get on the right side of the law, and it is a law that does not apply to you, where do you go from there?"
Alexander is referring to Florida's "stand your ground" law, a law that has come under scrutiny since the killing of Trayvon Martin. Unlike the Martin case, which involved one stranger killing another, Alexander's case involved her gun and her abusive husband.
Editor's note: Don't miss Gary Tuchman's interview with Marissa Alexander at 8 and 10 p.m. ET tonight on AC360°.
Marissa Alexander, a 31-year-old mother of three, pleaded for her freedom as an inmate in the Duval County Jail in Jacksonville, Florida.
"This is my life I'm fighting for," she said while wiping away tears. She added, "If you do everything to get on the right side of the law, and it is a law that does not apply to you, where do you go from there?"
Alexander is referring to Florida's so-called 'stand your ground' law, a law that has come under scrutiny since the killing of Trayvon Martin. Unlike the Martin case, which involved one stranger killing another, Alexander's case involved her gun and her abusive husband.
On August 1, 2010, she said her husband, Rico Gray, read text messages on her phone that she had written to her ex-husband. She said Gray became enraged and accused her of being unfaithful. "That's when he strangled me. He put his hands around my neck," Alexander said.
Editor's note: Tune in to AC360 tonight for the surprising results of a groundbreaking new study on children and race at 8 and 10 p.m. ET.
(CNN) – Luke, a white seventh grader, believes his parents would not be supportive if he dated an African-American girl. "Honestly I don't think my parents would be too happy because ... if you marry a black girl, you're connected to their family now," he said, adding, "and who knows what her family is really like?"
Jimmy, a black seventh grader, recounted that after he had several white girlfriends, his parents seemed to interpret it as an affront to his own race. "They said, 'Why not your own kind?' because all my girls have been white," he said, adding, "it's not like they were like, 'You need to choose a black girl,' it's just they were asking me why I like white girls and I was just like, 'there's no ... specific reason.' "
Their stories highlight a divide not between the races, but between the generations. Both teens participated in an Anderson Cooper 360° study on children and race. Many students reported discouragement of interracial dating from their parents, or those of their friends, with reactions ranging from wariness to outright forbiddance.
Editor's note: Tune in to AC360° this week for the surprising results of a groundbreaking new study on children and race. Watch "Kids on Race: The Hidden Picture" at 8 and 10 p.m. ET on CNN.
A white child and a black child look at the exact same picture of two students on the playground but what they see is often very different and what they say speaks volumes about the racial divide in America.
The pictures, designed to be ambiguous, are at the heart of a groundbreaking new study on children and race commissioned by CNN's Anderson Cooper 360°. White and black kids were asked: "What's happening in this picture?", "Are these two children friends?" and "Would their parents like it if they were friends?" The study found a chasm between the races as young as age 6.
Overall, black first-graders had far more positive interpretations of the images than white first-graders. The majority of black 6-year-olds were much more likely to say things like, "Chris is helping Alex up off the ground" versus "Chris pushed Alex off the swing."
They were also far more likely to think the children pictured are friends and to believe their parents would like them to be friends. In fact, only 38% of black children had a negative interpretation of the pictures, whereas almost double - a full 70% of white kids - felt something negative was happening.