A 12-year-old Martinez boy who was seriously injured in the Boston Marathon bombings a year ago is back in Boston with his family this week to pay tribute to the three people killed and more than 200 wounded in the attacks.
Martinez Junior High School student Aaron Hern and his parents attended ceremonies honoring the victims of the April 15, 2013 bombings on Tuesday and were set to attend the marathon next week, according to a Facebook page dedicated to the boy's recovery.
"We are here for the tribute today, the marathon, and to finally be able to connect with others in the survivor community," Aaron's mother Katherine Hern wrote online.
A year ago, Aaron was standing on the sidelines of the race waiting for his mother to cross the finish line of the 26.2-mile race when two blasts went off.
Photos of the event show him standing behind a metal barrier just feet away from Jane Richard, who lost her leg and her 8-year-old brother Martin, one of the three people killed in the bombings.
The second blast knocked Aaron to the ground and hit him with shrapnel, causing severe injuries to his left leg and rupturing his eardrums.
His father, Alan Hern, rushed to his side and a man standing nearby used his belt as a tourniquet around Aaron's wounded leg.
From there an ambulance took Aaron to the hospital where doctors were able to save his leg.
During his hospital stay in Boston he was visited by First Lady Michelle Obama and members of the Oakland Athletics baseball team.
Back home, local businesses raised funds to help support Aaron's recovery and his classmates put together a video of encouragement.
His summer was filled with doctor's appointments and physical therapy sessions, according to Katherine Hern.
Aaron did so well in physical therapy that he was able to join his swim team last summer, even though he lacked his usual strength and new uniforms meant revealing his scars from surgery, she said.
Later in the summer Aaron joined his baseball team and during a tournament in Cooperstown, New York hit a home run during a game "that is played out only in Hollywood," his mother wrote.
Since then, he has continued to shine as the quarterback for his football team and on the basketball court.
"I don't think he's stopped since he got out if his wheelchair at the end of last May," Katherine Hern wrote in a Facebook message posted on Tuesday. "He's hard to hold back so I stopped trying."
A crew from ESPN recently came to the Martinez Junior High School campus to film Aaron for a segment that aired on Tuesday, according to school Principal Jonathan Eagan.
"He's doing great - if you didn't know Aaron and saw him, you would never know that he had been through something like that last year," Eagan said, adding that the seventh-grader excels both in his classes and in athletics.
In addition to juggling school and sports the family welcomed a new baby, Caroline Jane Hern, last October.
In her latest post on the Aaron Hern Recovery Facebook page Katherine Hern thanked the many people who have sent wishes for her son's recovery over the past year.
"You have shown that love conquers over hate and it is that love we have felt monumentally more than any hate the perpetrators tried to spread," she said.
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