The following was written by Jarrod Clowery, who spoke at National Geographic Channel’s special advanced screening in Boston of the documentary Inside the Hunt for the Boston Bombers. Jarrod is a Boston marathon bombings survivor and founder of the Heroes Hearts Foundation.
By Jarrod Clowery
On April 15, 2013, I survived Marathon Monday and within one second, I became witness to the one of the most despicable actions of which humans are capable.
I was standing with five friends, about three or four feet from the site of where the second bomb went off, and just as it’s portrayed on “Inside the Hunt,” the next thing I remembered was waking up to a ringing sound, as I slowly regained consciousness.
Following the bombings came a long stay in the hospital, the early days of which were not easy. Though I had the company of the most talented team of doctors, who saved my life after four surgeries, I was still unable to feel safe and felt worried each time I was left alone, to the point that my doctors decided to put me under 24-hour surveillance to give me some sense of security.
My physical injuries began to improve, but emotionally and mentally, my progress felt limited. Eventually, as I’d take my routine walk to the bathroom to take off my bandages, I began to notice the walls around the room filling more and more with letters and drawings from kids, telling me their stories and showing me their support. As I’d stop to read them, time after time I would find myself utterly taken aback by how inspired they made me feel and how encouraging their sincere, genuine words were. For the first time, I felt reminded of a true sense of hope, and would often find myself laughing and crying while reading them at the same time.
It was touching acts like these from so many selfless real heroes—first responders on the scene, trauma nurses, physicians, EMTs, police officers, firefighters, healthcare administrators and the children behind the letters—that allowed me to emerge from my darkest hours with a renewed sense of purpose.
I realized that though on Marathon Monday I had in fact witnessed the worst, most despicable, actions humans are capable of, I had also witnessed the most unimaginable, endless amount of kindness and good that humans were capable of throughout the duration of my recovery that followed.
This is what inspired me to start my foundation, Heroes Hearts Foundation. Following my experience, I believe that everyone, everyday, has the potential to be a hero and that affirmative acts, not senseless acts of violence, are what define the majority of people on this earth. Heroes Hearts Foundation’s mission is to give back in the spirit of those who helped me and to be a resource for young people who are unaware of the untapped hero within himself or herself. Today, our children face many challenges in recognizing the potential they have, among them, one the most difficult is bullying.
Statistics show that nearly three of every four children are still experiencing bullying—including verbal, emotional and physical abuse. Beyond that, nearly a third of students have been bullied in school and up to 15 percent of children who are bullied subsequently experience low self-esteem, depression, anxiety or in the worst cases, suicidal ideation. The rise of cyber-bullying has intensified the problem.
Though daunting, these statistics further prove that the role of ‘heroes’ are an untapped resource—more important than ever. Heroes Hearts Foundation aims to impact these statistics and is poised to launch a Video Conferencing Classroom Program so others like me can continue to tell our stories. We want to remind schools and youth organizations that they must change the culture in any environment where children experience bullying—and ultimately, remind people that everyday heroes can make a real difference.
Jarrod Clowery is founder of Heroes Hearts Foundation, which is committed to bringing out the hero in everyone—those who through selfless acts of kindness towards others remind us of the goodness displayed after the Boston Marathon Bombings on April 15, 2013. The foundation seeks to raise awareness about the common qualities and characteristics of everyday heroes and educate and inspire young people to always treat others with dignity and respect.
Inside the Hunt for the Boston Bombers encores Wednesday, April 16, at 9P ET/PT.