, Salem, MA

April 17, 2013

Kerri Callahan: 'In a minute, it was all erased'


---- — DANVERS — For about a minute Monday afternoon, Kerri Callahan of Danvers felt the elation of completing the Boston Marathon for her 4-year-old son, Timothy, who suffers from a genetic disorder called neurofibromatosis.

The next minute, Callahan, who also has 11-month-old triplets, was running from the finish amid the chaos as she searched for her family, who were all there to see her run. Timmy, the triplets and her husband, Patrick, all managed to get home safely.

The blasts took place as those Callahan called “the heart and soul” of the marathon — those running to help local charities — were about to finish.

“You have a minute of running for that great cause, and in a minute, it was all erased,” said Callahan, a social worker and five-time marathoner.

Callahan was running for Neurofibromatosis Northeast, a nonprofit that supports families coping with the disease. In 2011, at age 2, Timmy was diagnosed with the disease, which causes tumors to form on nerves all over the body. Callahan raised $8,200 in Timmy’s name.

Timmy attends preschool at Riverside School in Danvers and gets occupational and physical therapy. Callahan’s goal was to give her son a big hug at the end of the race.

Callahan finished a minute later than she wanted, with a time of 4:01:12, but that minute meant a lot. About a minute after she crossed, the first device exploded.

She began to run with her phone and starting texting and trying to find out what had happened using Facebook. Her family was situated by Lord & Taylor, about a block before the finish line.

Everyone made it safely to where they had parked a few blocks away on Huntington Avenue.

Timmy did not see nor did he understand what happened, his mother said.

“Mommy, look at all the ambulances, where are they going?” he asked. He was glad to see his mother finish the marathon.

“He wore my medal,” Callahan said.