Boston Marathon bombing victim heals with a generous spirit


One year ago Tuesday, two bombs ripped through the crowds gathered near the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon. Three people were killed, and more than 260 were injured. For many of the wounded, the recovery has been slow and painful.

Karen McWatters was waiting to watch her then-boyfriend, Kevin, cross the finish line. Her best friend, Krystle Campbell, was with her when the bombs exploded. Campbell was killed by the explosion and McWatters' leg had to be amputated below the knee.

"There are days when it's sad, and there's days when it's hard," McWatters told CBS News' Elaine Quijano. "And because I miss Krystal it's difficult, but I just want to keep moving forward, and I want things to be positive, and I want to just have fun in every day."

Her positive outlook was made in part by an unlikely friendship with Estefanía Salinas, a teenager thousands of miles away. Salinas had been hit by a car last summer in her native El Salvador. Doctors had to amputate her right leg.

A stranger in a store told McWatters about Salinas. "She had nothing, and here I am in a city with all this outpouring of love and support and amazing care. And here is this poor little girl, and she had none of these options," said McWatters.

McWatters began following Estefanía's recovery on Facebook and wanted to do more. McWatters reached out to a local prosthetics company, which quickly agreed to donate a prosthetic leg. But Estefanía needed physical therapy, so the couple raised money to bring her to Boston for treatment at Shriners Hospital for Children.

"The first thing I said to her at the airport was, 'Now that you're here, you're going to be OK.' And I talked to her a lot about patience because that was the hardest thing for me to all of a sudden be so dependent on other people and wanting to just hurry up and get up and walk," said McWatters.

Estefanía continues to undergo physical therapy. She and McWatters meet a few times each week. McWatters said, "I think it was a good thing for me just because I was being busy doing something to help somebody else and not spending all my time this winter feeling sad because I was having difficulty getting outside or the challenges that I was facing."

Their relationship has brought healing to both.