Going to a Boston hospital and meeting 11-year-old Aaron Hern, a survivor of the Boston Marathon bombings, is one of the better decisions several members of the Oakland Athletics likely will ever make.
Sluggers Josh Reddick and Brandon Moss, along with coach Tye Waller, visited Hern on Monday afternoon before Oakland started a series against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. Reddick said the visit probably helped Hern take his mind off his injuries, at least for a while. What the A's might not have expected was the impact Hern would make on them.
John Hickey of the San Jose Mercury News writes:
"It was an amazing experience," said Moss, who spent about two hours with Hern at Boston Children's Hospital. "The entire family is looking this thing in the face and they are looking ahead, not back. I left there believing that Aaron has a great background and a great future. If any kid can be prepared for going forward from this, he is."
Hern's family — including his father, Alan, and older sister, Abby — cheered mom, Katherine Hern, as she raced in the marathon April 15 when two bombs exploded near the finish line. Three people died and, among the 176 injured in the attack, Hern needed three surgeries to fix shrapnel wounds, the most serious of which was in his left thigh. His recovery has gone well so far — sitting up in bed and turning was a major victory — but he still faces daunting challenges in all phases of life, from physical to emotional.
The Herns live in Martinez, Calif., a town about 40 minutes north of where the A's play, and have been on the collective minds of Bay Area residents ever since it was reported Aaron Hern was hurt. The A's made it a point to see Hern, who also has been visited by Michelle Obama. Reddick and Moss used to play for the Red Sox organization, and the attack hit Reddick hard personally. Of course, it's more even personal to the Herns:
"I think we were there to help him forget," Reddick said. "He had a big smile and to see his face light up when we got there was just tremendous.
"By the time we left, I felt I got more out of it than he did. What happened really put things in perspective."
Aaron Hern plays several sports at Martinez Junior High — he can run the mile in under six minutes — and was watching the A's on TV in their series against Houston before the marathon. Waller said meeting the entire Hern family made his day:
"Knowing that he's going to be OK after all the surgeries made us feel good. I think we came out of there with them making us feel better rather than the other way around. I guarantee you that family will be OK."
If you are able and willing to help the family defray the expense of his recovery, the Aaron Hern Recovery Fund is taking donations at any Wells Fargo Bank across the country.