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Mainers Making A Difference: Marathon Monday

BOSTON (WGME) -- CBS 13 News takes an in-depth look at how those affected by the terrorist attacks, are moving forward with their lives.

One Mainer, Karen Rand, stood at the finish line when the bombs went off. She lost her leg, and a dear friend in the explosions.

But now, after a chance encounter, she's turning tragedy into a way to make a difference.

Karen Rand McWatter's pictures tell the story of an extraordinary year. She met President Obama, threw out the first pitch at a major league baseball game, and married her love, Kevin McWatters.

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It's also been an emotional year for a Falmouth woman wounded in the bombings.  Sarah Girouard says the experience has brought her family even closer.  That was more than evident Monday, when her sister ran the marathon in her honor.

They were always close, but these two sisters from Falmouth are even closer after this.

Sarah Girouard, a college student in Boston, was watching near the finish line of the marathon. Shrapnel from the explosion shattered her eardrums, burned her hair and wounded her leg.

Now, a year later, she's had plenty of time to reflect on that.

Her entire family has felt it, from friends and neighbors stopping by their Falmouth home, to a former marathoner who gave Sarah one of his medals.

Perhaps one of the biggest gestures of kindness was an all-expense paid trip offered by Vantage Travel of Boston to survivors and first responders.

Sarah, who took her mother on the trip, says she also got a chance to meet the man who helped her right after the explosion.

As a tribute to all the survivors, the Boston Athletic Association offered two invitational entries to each family. Sarah asked her sister, Lauren, to run.

Sarah was at the finish line again this year, with a new found perspective on the fragility of life, and the strength that arises from it.

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Two men went to the marathon as supportive spectators and left heroes.

John Mixon of Ogunquit and Carlos Arredondo of Boston tore down barricades to help save lives that day.

One year later, they're finding inspiration, even blessings, in a horrific aftermath.

Everywhere you look, there are reminders in Carlos Arredondo's home: newspaper clippings, notes and of course, that iconic photo.

Arredondo was at the finish line of the marathon with his friend John Mixon. They were supporting marathoners who ran in honor of Maine's fallen soldiers.

Arredondo's son is one of the fallen. He was handing out hundreds of American flags.

The Costa Rican native held onto his last flag as he and Mixon tore down a barricade to get to injured spectators.

That's when Arredondo found Jeff Bauman on the ground without his legs. He held the young man's artery until reaching an ambulance.

Bauman is back on his feet, and the two have formed a unique bond. They've been to ball games, the White House, and even Costa Rica to meet Arredondo's family.

Through it all, they've found blessings big and small.

The pair say it's important they be standing at the finish line on marathon Monday. Not only to support those affected last year, but also to send a message: that this tragedy has only made this event, this city that much stronger.

This year, twelve people ran in honor of Maine's fallen soldiers, two of them were for Arredondo's son, Alex.

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The owner of Marathon Sports on Boylston Street says Marathon Monday 2013 started like it did every year, as a celebration.

All of that changed in an instant when tragedy struck just feet away from the storefront.

Colin Peddie is a Hallowell, Maine native who became the owner of Marathon Sports back in 1992.

He talked with us about the chaos that ensued inside his store after the bombs exploded at the finish line.

Colin Peddie says lives were saved inside his store on Marathon Monday 2013. His employees became first responders as they rushed to help the victims.

Peddie had to rebuild the Marathon Sports Finish Line store in 2013, but the rebuilding went far beyond the windows.

Peddie says he saw kindness and strength, and even experienced incredible moments of joy.

Employees at Marathon Sports have spent months training runners for this year's 26.2, but Peddie says there was no way to prepare emotionally for Marathon Monday 2014.

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Many Mainers ran in Monday's Boston Marathon, but a running club from Maine made the trek down and made a difference along the race route.

Based out of Yarmouth, the Maine Track Club Roasters are like a family, a family that runs a lot. They were there for each other last year at the marathon, volunteering at a water station.

Some runners, like Susan Shepard, Kristin Center, and Dave Edwards ran on Marathon Monday this year.

All the other roasters made the trek down to hand out water and Gatorade at mile 14 again.

For the runners, that emotional path to the finish line is made a little easier by some friendly faces.

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For some runners, this year's Marathon Monday was a chance to finally finish.

Last year when the bombs went off, more than 5,000 hadn't crossed the line on Boylston Street.

They were from all 50 and 47 countries, and the Boston Athletic Association invited them back this year, because crossing that line is a big part of the experience.

Mainers like Dave Holman, spent the past few months training all over again.

The North Yarmouth man was running Boston for the first time last year when he was stopped less than a mile from the finish.

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Just hours after the bombs exploded, a Gorham native in Boston came up with an idea to help the victims.

"Boston Strong" started as a modest fundraising idea. It has now grown into a widely used motto, embraced by the entire city.

It's a simple blue t-shirt with two words written in gold, an online fundraiser to pass the time and help the victims cope.

Nick Reynolds thought it was a good idea and tens of thousands of people agreed.

They sold more than 37,000 Boston Strong t-shirts in the first week, and recently surpassed $1 million raised for victims of the marathon bombings.

The Gorham, Maine native can't believe how one simple idea has taken off.

The demand was so great in those first few months that by June, Reynolds and his business partner, Chris Dobins presented a check to the One Fund for $894,000.

The short phrase quickly became a city motto, especially as the Red Sox captured the 2013 world championship.

A simple blue t-shirt, proving dreams can never be too big.

Reynolds says he was fully expecting to see a huge turnout of runners wearing Boston Strong t-shirts on Marathon Monday.