When the bombs went off at the Boston Marathon on April 15, psychology graduate student Patrick Downes and his wife, Jessica Kensky, were at the finish line. Downes, who ran the Boston Marathon himself in 2005, went to the race to reminisce. Instead, the newlyweds each lost a leg.
A Boston native, the 29-year-old Downes is working on a doctoral degree in clinical psychology from the Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology and is completing training at Tufts Medical Center's outpatient psychiatry department. Kensky, 32, is an oncology nurse at Massachusetts General Hospital.
In the fall, Downes and Kensky plan to move to San Francisco, where Downes landed an internship position in San Francisco General Hospital's child and adolescent services department.
Downes's doctoral research focuses on how empathy and emotional intelligence predict how effective psychotherapy will be. That focus, according to a Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology tribute online, is "a natural exploration for this sensitive, talented, thoughtful and serious young professional who immerses himself in relationships, both personal and professional."
The outpouring of support from friends and strangers alike attests to the strength of those relationships.
"Patrick is the kindest, most patient, funniest, best person ever," says his friend Rachel Bloom, a psychology grad student at George Washington University who worked with Downes at a therapeutic school called the Gifford School. "When he left Gifford for grad school, we hung up signs in the Lower School that said, ‘What Would Patrick Do?' because he was such a great role model for the kids."
A Facebook page called "Patrick and Jess Running Again" exemplifies the confidence that friends, colleagues and other supporters have in the two avid runners' recovery.
"The road to recovery stretches ahead of them; it will be an arduous one," the couple's parents said in a statement. "Yet, we are confident they will manage their rehabilitation with the same spirit of optimism and determination that has guided each of them in these early days of their hospitalization."
To offer emotional support or a financial contribution toward the couple's medical bills and out-of-pocket rehabilitation costs, visit GiveForward. The Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology has also established a fund to support medical or other needs.
—Rebecca A. Clay
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