When news broke of the Boston Marathon bombings April 15, Leah Powers began to worry. Her stepmother was running in the race. Watching live news reports of the mayhem and trauma inflicted by the blast, Powers’ mind began to race. Was her stepmother all right? Was she injured? Was she one of the bloodied runners she saw on her television screen being rushed to aid?
Several days later, she got the word. Her stepmother, whose name was not released to local media due to the ongoing investigation, called from the hospital. She was alive, but had suffered burns over 25 percent of her body, and had undergone skin grafts for her injuries. She was close to the finish line when the bombs went off.
“She said that she was fine and there were a lot of others around her that weren’t, that had way more severe injuries that she had,” Powers said.
Relieved but worried, Powers, a waitress at Atlanta’s Del Frisco Grille, wanted to drop everything and fly to Boston to be by her stepmother’s side. Even though the women were brought together as a blended family after a divorce, they had grown close. “You don’t have to be blood to be family. You don’t have to be blood to have a support system,” Powers said.
There was only one problem. A big one, in fact.
She couldn’t afford the airline ticket.
That’s when the support system she alluded to kicked in. It was even bigger than she imagined.
When her co-workers learned of her plight, they immediately sprang into action. They passed around a plate and everyone chipped in.
“I found out people were donating money to try to get me a ticket up there and I’m shaking,” Powers told Atlanta television station WGCL. Their kindness overwhelmed her, she said. “Just to know they care for me to do something like that is something I never expected,” she said.
“It hit really close to home with us here – with one of our own – and it wasn’t even a question. It was ‘What do you need?’ and we all chipped in and made it happen,” said Del Frisco’s general manage Kenneth Perlman.
The restaurant team talked with Delta Airlines about getting Powers a reduced rate, then chipped in to get her a flight. Del Frisco’s corporate offices matched the employee’s donations. Powers said she feels her stepmom will forever have a bond with those injured on April 15, and it’s one she’ll now share with her other family, too. Her work family.
“It’s a bond that I feel like a lot of them will carry on for the rest of their lives and it’s sad but bittersweet to see people reunite and to know how much, how many people care,” Powers said.
The young woman winged her way up to Boston and the reunion was complete. Her updated Facebook profile photo is she and a Boston police officer posing on a city street, a bright sunny spring day. The caption on the photo?
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