Talk to Lee Ann Yanni and you will immediately know what makes her a great physical therapist—she's straightforward, funny, practical and very calm. She has all the traits you would want in someone whose job is to help people regain their strength from injury and illness. What you might not be able to tell right away is that Lee Ann has experienced that journey of recovery herself.
On April 15, 2013, Lee Ann and her husband Nick were enjoying a coveted spot near the Boston Marathon's finish line. An avid athlete herself, Lee Ann had recently registered for the Chicago Marathon and was cheering on a few of her physical therapy clients as they ran. Shortly before 3 pm, the atmosphere of excitement and joy changed in an instant when Lee Ann and Nick were among the hundreds seriously injured in what would later be known as the Boston Marathon Bombing.
Lee Ann was taken to Tufts Medical Center with a compound fracture in her fibula, damaged ear drums, and a broken toe; a firefighter at the scene described her wounds as some of the worst he had seen. Lee Ann is clinical when describing her injuries but when asked to talk about the care she received at the Medical Center, she doesn't hesitate.
"I'll never forget how they took care of us," she said. "We felt so protected. My care team arranged for my husband, who was also a patient, to be in the same room with me and for my mother to fly up from Florida—they were there for us completely. Our nurses and doctors, Jean, Sarah, Maren, Nicole, Dr. Hoffman, they will always be like family to me."
Lee Ann spent eight days at the Medical Center and many more weeks recovering. Just six months after the bombing, Lee Ann ran the Chicago Marathon as she had planned. She returned to Boston in 2014, 2015, and 2019 to run the Boston Marathon, completing her goal of finishing in under five hours. Living in Florida with her husband and now five-year-old son, Lee Ann is still grateful for her care and the friends she made at the Medical Center.
They put us back together," said Lee Ann.