Boston Marathon bombing

He and His Brother Lost Their Legs in the Bombing. ‘Now, We Get to Help a Lot of People'

Despite each losing a leg a decade ago, the Nordens haven’t focused on themselves — they’ve put much of their energy into helping others

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Ten years ago, the lives of two brothers from Stoneham, Massachusetts, changed forever.

J.P. and Paul Norden each lost a leg in the bombings at the Boston Marathon finish line. In the decade since, they have gained so much more.

“In a lot of ways of ways, it changed me for the better,” J.P. said

It’s that positive outlook that keeps J.P. going all these years later.

“I don’t ever think about the bombing, ever,” he said. “My day is my day. I get up, I put my leg on and I do what I’ve got to do just like everybody else.”

The brothers have determination and strength. Despite each losing a leg a decade ago, the Nordens haven’t focused on themselves — they’ve put much of their energy into helping others.

“I always say, for a day that changed my family’s life forever, it’s now the backbone for how we pay forward the kindness,” said Liz Norden, J.P. and Paul’s mother. “So, for a bad day, it’s really a good day now.”

A Massachusetts family impacted by the Boston Marathon Bombings is giving back to the doctors and nurses on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic at the hospital that helped them heal 7 years ago.

The family started the foundation, A Leg Forever. So far, the organization has helped 60 people who’ve lost limbs pay for prosthetics, wheelchairs and bedside care. J.P. said his family is now able to do for others what so many did for them.

“Now, we get to help a lot of people with our charity and, I don’t know, I just feel like a better person,” he said.

Much of his inspiration came from a visit to Walter Reed Hospital with his doctor. The trip was just a few months after the bombings in 2013, when J.P. was still mostly using a wheelchair.

“It was definitely a day that changed my life for sure,” he said.

Ever since that trip, J.P. knew he needed to walk again. His newest prosthetic is now controlled by Bluetooth, which is a dramatic improvement from his first leg a decade ago.

“The first one I walked on looked like literally something a pirate would wear and now I have this one where the ankle bends and you can use an app on your phone to change the settings, etc. So it’s cool to see where it’s going,” J.P. said.

He said that he and his brother Paul are back to everyday life, which is a good feeling. And their mother is proud to see how far they’ve come.

“Nothing stops them. I’m in awe all the time,” said Liz. “ 'Cause I’m still angry, I still get sad sometimes for them, but nothing holds them back. They have really done so wonderful.”

This year, there are 10 people running for A Leg Forever. You can find out more here.

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