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Army veteran helped injured at finish line

On Marathon Monday, look for number 28,255.

Bruce Mendelsohn will be wearing that bib. The 45-year-old Army veteran is director of communications and outreach at the Gordon-MIT Engineering Leadership Program. He was awarded the coveted number for his essay sent to the Boston Athletic Association’s “Profoundly Affected” program. About 450 numbers have been handed out.

Mendelsohn wrote of being at the finish line when the bombs went off and applying a tourniquet to a Northeastern University student’s leg. He also told MIT officer Sean Collier to “stay safe” just hours before the young man was murdered. That wasn’t in the essay, yet it remains a painful memory of a week nobody can forget. Running is now Mendelsohn’s therapy. Here’s his story, as told to the Herald’s Joe Dwinell:

“Fate or the universe can try to beat us down, but we’re not going to be defeated. I’m personally not going to let the terrorists change the way we want to run our lives.

I run with my thoughts. I don’t use an iPod. I think how pretty it is outside and what I could have done better. I don’t view myself as a hero, but as doing my obligation as a citizen. That’s what makes Boston strong. In a crisis or triumph, the strength of us together is insurmountable.

When I train I think of all the people who can’t do this. It’s an obligation, almost, to do this race. (He’s run marathons before, but never the Boston Marathon.)

I don’t want to go to a therapist to talk about the bombing — I just want to run. It’s supremely important for me to run this race. When I trained recently and got to Route 128, I could see the top of the Pru and I started crying.

I had a brother who ran last year’s race, and he finished in 2:52. We walked to a party at Marlo Marketing three floors up from where the first bomb went off on Boylston Street. I yelled ‘Get back’ from the windows and then the next bomb went off. I ran into the chaos. I saw a girl half in and half out of Sugar Heaven (a candy store) bleeding. I put a tourniquet around her lower leg and pleaded ‘Get her out of here.’ I was told it saved her leg.

I want to share my story with everybody. This race is going to be 26.2 miles of therapy for me.”

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