Tonawanda News

Local News

April 16, 2013

For WNYers, tense moments turned to relief

One was in Boston, three miles shy of finishing the race of a lifetime. One was in his Western New York home because a bad back forced him out of the race. One wasn’t thinking about the race at all — because she was on the phone with the vice president.

Their stories share one thing in common, though — a visceral reaction to the news the Boston Marathon had been bombed with blood staining its triumphant finish line.

Town of Tonawanda resident Amy Wallace, founder of the local gun control advocacy group Moms Demand Action, spent her Monday afternoon preparing for a conference call with Vice President Joe Biden. The Boston Marathon was the last thing on her mind.

“We were talking about the gun legislation, what was being done ... and how important the work we are doing is,” Wallace said.

A White House official spoke before Biden got on the line. But soon after he did, officials came into the room and informed him of the bombings.

“He said ‘they are turning on the TV in here, looks like something happened in Boston ... looks like there has been an explosion,’ “ Wallace recounted. “He just said ‘our hearts and prayers go out to everyone in Boston,’ and then the call ended.”

Wallace, a former News copy editor, said the call was shorter than planned. Activists weren’t allowed to ask questions as had been promised.

“We didn’t know what had happened, it was very surreal,” she said. “For (the bombing) to happen at the same time as the call, it was just very surreal.”

The reaction was mixed for Lockport’s John Reardon, a longtime distance runner who traveled to Harrisburg, Pa., for a marathon where he posted a time good enough to qualify for the Boston race.

His hopes of running in the iconic race were dashed, though, when a bad back forced him to withdraw last week.

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