BOSTON (CBS) -- Gillian Reny nearly lost her leg in the Boston Marathon bombing. Her mission now is to help doctors find new and even better ways to help others recover from similar devastating injuries.
Nine months ago, Reny and her family started the Stepping Strong foundation, already raising $3.5 million for cutting-edge research. It's her way of saying thank you to the doctors at Brigham and Women's hospital who sprang into action to save her life and limbs.
She was among the first wave of patients rushed to the Brigham. She rarely needs crutches anymore, the pain in her right leg comes in waves.
"It's been a long road with ups and downs, but I'm feeling really great recently," she said.
The 19-year-old college sophomore is focused on moving forward from that day when two bombs exploded at the marathon finish line. She was standing with her parents, waiting for her sister to cross.
A major milestone was achieved Thursday as the first $100,000 Stepping Strong grant was awarded to Brigham and Women's Hospital plastic surgeon Dr. Matthew Carty, who wants to help amputees regain mobility and sensation.
"We're now able to do things potentially amazing to restore functions we never could have thought of," said Dr. Carty.
Eighteen applications were considered and three finalists gave final presentations at the Brigham Thursday.
Reny's life changed in an instant, but now she's stepping strong to have a lasting impact.
"To be able to have such a positive thing come out of it is more than I can ask for," she said.
Two innovator grants will be handed out each year for the next five years, but Reny and her family hope to fund research for years to come.
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