In late May of 2013, Paul Adler fulfilled a promise he made to himself over a month prior. He gave blood.
The news anchor and reporter at KYTV in Springfield was about a quarter mile from the finish line at the Boston Marathon on April 15th, hoping to catch a glimpse of his wife, Melissa, who was running in the event. He was searching for her to witness her triumph. Soon he would be searching and hoping just to find her alive.
Adler had used Boston’s mass transit system to see Melissa at a couple of points in the race. His last stop was near the finish line, where he hoped to get a photo of her final push. He missed seeing her that time, and a couple of minutes later he received an automated text message from the marathon stating that she had completed her race. Then it happened.
“The first thing I noticed was a commotion,” Adler recalled. “Some of the runners were stopping. I saw some white smoke near the finish line about a quarter mile away. Then I noticed that people were moving away. No one knew what had happened at first. Then I overheard some people mentioning something about an explosion. I thought about Melissa just finishing the race. The time frame of her finish and the explosion was just too close for comfort.”
Adler frantically moved toward the finish line as a sea of people moved the other way. At several points, his route was blocked by police. He continued anyway, ducking through building lobbies, up alley ways, trying to get close. “It was total confusion, but I just had to find her.”
Finally near the finish line and the blast site, he approached the medical tent. That’s the place the runners go after finishing to take care of the myriad of minor problems that can be associated with running such a long race. The tent had been transformed into a triage unit for the hundreds that had been injured in the terrorist blasts. Adler noticed a man in a grey sweatshirt with a bloodstained handprint across the front. “It looked like a child’s finger painting. He was upset. He was also yelling that this was serious and that people should go to Mass Gen (Massachusetts General Hospital) and give blood. “It was there that Adler made his promise to give. But not now. He had to find Melissa.
“The marathon had an area set up by the letters of your last name,” Adler continued. “That’s where you could meet and greet and congratulate your runner. I looked at the faces near the letter, “A.” I didn’t see her. I walked back and forth twice and still didn’t see her. I prayed that I wouldn’t have to find that medical tent again. In desperation, I cupped my hands to my face and started screaming, “Melissa” on the crowded street. She heard me. She was OK. I’ve never been more relieved.”
Fast forward to the afternoon of May 28th. Adler walked into the CBCO blood drive at KYTV to fulfill the silent promise he gave to that man with the blood soaked sweatshirt more than a month before. “I’ve given blood several times before, even though I don’t particularly enjoy those big needles,” he laughs. “Melissa is a regular donor, and sometimes she gives me trouble for my reluctance. But I try to give because I know the healing power of blood. I’ve seen too many tragic situations in my job. The truth is that you just don’t know when you’re going to need blood. There can be a disaster. There can be a car accident. There can even be a terrorist attack. I give because I might need help someday too.”