BOSTON — Jessica Kensky and Patrick Downes both survived the Marathon bombings and are now turning their story into an opportunity to teach young readers about adversity and acceptance.
Back in 2013, the couple had been planning on moving to San Francisco, but wanted to go see the Boston Marathon one last time.
"We'd only been at the finish line for 10-15 minutes when we settled in next to the first bomb," said Jessica.
"We both essentially lost our legs on Boylston Street, our left legs below the knee," said Patrick.
While both Jessica and Patrick then had to deal with their new reality, they were also faced with the incredibly difficult decision of whether to keep Jessica's right leg, which was badly injured. Many months later, doctors determined it could not be saved.
"It was really a very complicated, heavy time where we were faced with this impossible decision," said Jessica.
During their unexpected journey, however, Jessica and Patrick met a little helper who would forever change their lives.
Rescue, Jessica's aptly named service dog, was prepared to help her move around and adapt to her new life.
"He can open doors and fetch my phone, pick things up off the floor, stand and brace for me if I fall," said Jessica. "But I totally underestimated how he was going to make us laugh, and give our family kind of something happy to talk about and focus on."
The couple had found joy in their lives again with Rescue's help.
"We had forgotten what it felt like to laugh in a pure, joyous way," said Patrick.
It was then they realized how Rescue had come into their lives for more than just helping out around the house.
"We realized Rescue has this power to change the way [others] see people with disabilities and see it with fascination instead of fear," said Patrick.
As a way to continue the conversation, Jessica and Patrick felt as though overcoming adversity and learning to accept one another was worthy of becoming a children's book.
Their story is now eternalized in "Rescue and Jessica: A Lifechanging Friendship", the story of how Jessica and Rescue met, why they needed each other and what they mean to each other.
"We wanted to expose kids to walkers and wheelchairs and crutches to normalize those things," said Jessica. "And, on an even bigger scale, how kids encounter adversity all the time and they need companions to overcome obstacles."
"Rescue and Jessica: A Lifechanging Friendship" goes on sale this Tuesday, April 3.
Some of the proceeds from the book will go to NEADS, the Massachusetts non-profit organization that trained rescue.
The complete list of launch events for Jessica and Patrick's book can be found below:
Thursday, April 5th
6 p.m. Boston Public Library, Rabb Hall *Book Launch*
700 Boylston Street, Boston, MA 02116
Saturday, April 7th
1 p.m. Barnes & Noble
98 Middlesex Turnpike, Burlington, MA 01803
Sunday April 8th
2 p.m. An Unlikely Story
111 South Street, Plainville, MA 02762
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