Karen Rand greets the hosts of Ask This Old House at her Somerville home.

Marathon Bombing Survivor's Home Outfitted For Recovery

March 31, 2014

Blue metal scaffolding climbs up a brown triple-decker house in Somerville. Construction workers are hammering and chatting, getting ready to install a floor on a new porch.

"We’re going to put in a new kitchen floor, a new floor out in this hallway and new railings on the stair down," said Michael McHugh, of Davis Square Architects. "And a new bathroom as well."

McHugh is renovating this home for a woman named Karen Rand. Rand lives here with her husband. On this day, she’s eager to hear McHugh’s updates.

Until last April, Rand was happy with this house as it was. Then she went to watch the marathon with her best friend, Krystle Campbell.

Life with a prosthetic leg is one thing. Life with a prosthetic leg when you're on the third floor of a walk-up is another.

"I was at the finish line, just as a spectator," she said.

When the first bomb exploded, Rand lost the lower half of her left leg — and her best friend. Krystle Campbell was one of the three people killed in the blasts. Rand was in the hospital for nearly three months.

"I mean, I lost my leg," she said. "I had no idea what to expect or how challenging life would be for me. So I think that was part of the difficulty about coming home."

Life with a prosthetic leg is one thing. Life with a prosthetic leg when you’re on the third floor of a walk-up is another.

“I didn’t know what it would be like," Rand said. "The Department of Public Safety called and brought a team of people that are used to looking around and know things that can be helpful, changes that they could make that would make life easier for me."

Karen Rand

The Department of Public Safety teamed with the Boston Society of Architects’ “Renovate for Recovery” program, along with help from local contractors, workers, occupational therapists and hardware suppliers. Rand’s story even caught the attention of the show Ask This Old House.

Rand is still getting used to walking with her prosthetic leg, and non-slip floors will make it easier to get around. And she and her husband are looking forward to a new bathroom, with handles, like the new railings on the staircase.

“We’re both just overwhelmed at the kindness of people and the generosity," she said. "And a little bit humbled by it. I think it’s a great service that they provide, and they provide it for a lot of people, not just those injured in the marathon. I think it’s great that there’s just an awareness that it’s out there and that there is help for people. We don’t always know where to go or even how to ask.”

The work on Rand’s home is estimated to cost between $80,000 and $100,000. And all those materials and time have been donated.

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