John Odom says he doesn’t think of himself as a hero. The people who helped him survive the Boston Marathon bombing are the real heroes, he says, while his role is just to inspire other victims to recover. Yet it’s this type of comment that makes him even more heroic.
To most, just the fact that he survived the April 15 blast is courageous. As John and his wife Karen recount in this two-part segment from Jens Erik Gould’s Bravery Tapes, they were waiting for their daughter to cross the finish line of the race when the bombs went off. While Karen went unscathed, John’s legs were torn apart so badly that doctors questioned whether he would make it. His heart stopped twice because of blood loss, he underwent eleven operations, spent more than a week on life support, and doesn’t remember anything that happened for a month after the bombing. Still, he survived.
Then, experts were unsure he would walk again. After all, the shrapnel tore arteries in each leg and cut his sciatic nerve. But when it came time to leave the hospital for the first time and staff readied a wheelchair, Odom told them he would walk out. Now, he walks with the help of a cane even though he has no feeling in his left foot.
What makes his success all the more laudable is his intent. Odom says he embraced the pains and challenges of recovery to inspire the other victims in the hospital to do the same. “We went to therapy. I felt that I needed to be that strong person for them,” Odom told Jens Gould in an interview upon return to his Southern California home. “I had to be the one.”
And when the blast first happened, even though Odom was the man down, he wanted to make sure his loved ones had survived. “It’s the other people I really thought about,” he says. “I was hoping everything was going to be ok for them.”
Directed and produced by Jens Erik Gould (http://braverytapes.com)
Director of Photography: Jakub Kasztalski (http://www.jakeski.com)
Editor: Greg Reitman (http://www.gregreitman.me)
JENS ERIK GOULD
Jens previously covered music for TIME Magazine and time.com, interviewing artists from Skrillex to Danger Mouse. He has more than a decade of experience covering multiple beats in more than a dozen countries across the globe, including covering Venezuela politics for The New York Times and Mexico’s economy for Bloomberg News. He is also a singer songwriter who has released three albums.