One local Nurse Practitioner, Mary Orencole, who works at Massachusetts General Hospital wrote to share her reflections of the events at the 2013 Boston Marathon and how the international quilting community rallied together in response to support the Boston community.
Her colleagues were among the personnel who staff the medical tent at the Boston Marathon every year. When the bombings occurred during the 2013 Marathon the hospital had lost all connectivity with them that day and staff did not know for hours if they were alive or dead as the cell lines had all been cut off.
They waited in the next hours as the horror of the violent tragedy unfolded. Her colleagues who attended to the young victims that day said it was something that they never experienced or expected and which they will never forget. As events unfolded, officials initially thought that while trying to save lives, the medical personnel were also in possible harms way.
What became apparent was the traumatic effect such a tragedy had on these medical personnel and the need to recognize and attempt to comfort these first responders.
After learning that many first responders suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, many individuals wanted to show support for both the victims as well as the first responders.
At the same time, quilters internationally organized a display of support for the victims and the City of Boston by making quilted flags. The project, "To Boston with Love", was organized by Berene Campbell, from theVancouver Modern Quilt Guild and orchestrated locally by Amy Friend from During Quiet Time.com.
This project produced about 1700 small quilted flags in just a four-week period of time, and were displayed at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts on Memorial Day last year. The MFA has retained ownership of these flags, and is currently exhibited them again during the month of April in honor of the 2013 Boston Marathon. (Click on the photo below for information on this year's exhibit.)
The second was the "Quilts for Boston" project an international collaborative effort led by the Boston Modern Quilt Guild (BMQG). The BMQG put out a call for quilters to submit blocks in the colors of the marathon - blue and yellow with some white and gray added. Quickly, quilters blogged, told their friends, posted on Instagram, Facebook and Flickr and rallied quilters to submit blocks.
Quilters sent in more than 2000 blocks from 46 US States and 5 Canadian provinces, representing over 70 modern and traditional quilt guilds from all over the world. The BMQG rallied and hosted a number of sew-ins to turn all of the blocks into quilts, with help from the Seacoast Modern Quilt Guild and many other quilters. Quilt stores, both local and online, as well as fabric, thread and batting manufacturers, donated fabric and supplies so that the quilts could be finished. When all was said and done, the guild expects to finish close to 80-100 quilts, a number of which were given to first responders like the Watertown Police Department and those injured.
In addition, the group worked with the Boston Athletic Association (BAA) and the psychological teams when approached about how the quilts might be displayed at the marathon this year. Decisions were carefully weighted to ensure that the Marathon was "as normal as possible" while finding a balance of showing love and support for all of those affected by the events of the 2013 marathon.
The decision has been made that these quilts will become part of the Boston Marathon every year and will line the medical tents as a token of love and support from an international group of quilters.
Mary writes,"Having personally delivered quilts to providers who were at the scene, many of who tried endlessly to save lives, there are no possible words for the emotions that surface. David King M.D., a trauma surgeon at MGH, ran the Marathon and had just finished the race when the bombs went off. He ran directly to the hospital and spent the night in the OR saving people's limbs and lives. You place the quilt in their arms and nothing else is needed as emotions surface all to easily. Quilts help heal for sure. It is an amazing effort and act of love."
(Photo: David King, M.D. receiving his quilt)
(Photo: l-r: Detective Donohue, Captain Rocca, Natalie, and Sergeant Hoiseth - Boston Modern Quilt Guild)
(Photo: Quilts for Boston Sew-In with Boston Modern Quilt Guild)
This year's marathon will be run on Monday, April 21, 2014.