By Kim Constantinesco
For Boston Marathon bombing survivor Roseann Sdoia, 48, this year is all about putting one foot in front of the other. First, it was a dash up one of the tallest buildings in the world. Next: Walking down the aisle in a wedding dress.
Sdoia was one of 235 competitors to take on Wednesday night’s 40th annual Empire State Building Run-Up, a legendary race sponsored by Marmot up the 86 floors of the iconic skyscraper.
She fought her way to the top of the 1,576 stairs in 58 minutes, 51 seconds. Accompanying her was her 37-year-old firefighter fiancé, Mike Materia, who was dressed in full bunker gear, and Sarah Reinersten, the first woman to finish the Kona IRONMAN on a prosthetic leg.
Yes, the athletes were there for the personal challenge and the unobstructed city views, but they were also there to raise money for the Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF), which gives those who have physical disabilities the opportunity to pursue active lifestyles.
CAF has played a major role in Sdoia’s life since 2013. She was a spectator at the Boston Marathon finish line when she lost part of her right leg in the second blast.
In that moment, she knew her life had changed forever, but she never would have foreseen a wedding in her future because of the attack. As she was laying on the street bleeding, Materia, a complete stranger, tended to her injuries with a tourniquet, loaded her into a police transport vehicle, and held her hand en route to the hospital.
“My mom tried to set me up with him while I was in the hospital,” Sdoia said. “I told her, ‘Mom, I just got blown up.'”
Then a change of heart set in throughout surgeries and doctors’ appointments. They went on their first date three months after the blasts, and by July of 2013, they were vacationing together. On December 4, Materia proposed. The couple plan to wed in either October or November.
Getting ready for the Empire State Building climb took up a lot of their time. Sdoia said she trained on the steps of Boston’s Bunker Hill Monument. But, now that this challenge is complete, she and Materia will focus on the March release of their book, “Perfect Strangers,” which details their story. Then, wedding planning gets well underway.
As Sdoia and Materia took their final steps at the Empire State Building Run Up on the east side of the observation deck, they looked at one another with beaming sweaty smiles knowing full well that a finish line is really just another start line.