You may remember Nicole Gross and her lasting image that was displayed around the world after the shocking and tragic bombings at the Boston Marathon last year.
Gross and her husband, Michael, who at the time served as a personal trainer and the general manager, respectively, at the Charlotte (NC) Athletic Club, have received numerous media requests in recent weeks as the one-year anniversary of the bombings approaches. (A director at the Charlotte Athletic Club told me earlier this week that the club is no longer directly connected to the Gross family.)
Although they have declined interview requests, Nicole and Michael Gross, both of whom suffered injuries from the bombings, provided Club Industry and several other media outlets, particularly in Charlotte, a written statement. In the statement, the Grosses said they plan to return to Boston to watch the marathon, which will be held April 21, six days after the one-year anniversary. Not only that, but Nicole's mother, Carol Downing, and Michael's brother, Brian Gross, as well as several of their friends will be running in the event.
"We are tremendously grateful for the generous outpouring of support and love from our neighbors in Charlotte, the people in Boston and from individuals all over the world during our most difficult days," the Grosses said in the statement. "We will never be able to express how truly thankful we are. While we mark this one year of recovery with many milestones of hope, we wanted to express our appreciation to everyone who helped that day and in the past year. Many of us have much healing to do and our recovery may never be complete, but the hope of spring, the renewal of a new year and the love of everyone has given us even more optimism for better days ahead."
Nicole and Michael added that they are looking forward to watching Carol, Brian and their friends cross the finish line "and take back the joy of race day on Boylston Street." The Grosses went on to express their appreciation to members of the media who continue to respect their privacy "and allow us the opportunity to privately recognize this most important day with our family and friends." They ended the statement with the hashtag #bestrongstaystrong.
Carol Downing and Nicole's sister, Erika Brannock, who lost her left leg above the knee in the bombings last year, have talked with local media in Baltimore as well as The Boston Globe in recent days as the anniversary approaches. Brannock offered her Baltimore-area shock trauma surgeon an invitational entry to race in the Boston Marathon this year. On Thursday night, Brannock threw out the first pitch at Oriole Park at Camden Yards before a game with her hometown Baltimore Orioles.
"It means bringing the whole year, wrapping the whole year up and bringing some closure to it," Downing told WBAL-TV. "And I hope after I complete the marathon and I get to the finish line and everyone's safe that we can sort of put this year behind us and start moving forward."