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Marathon bombing survivor Roseann Sdoia has film in works

Roseann Sdoia's story begins on Patriots Day 2013 near the finish line of the Boston Marathon.

She lives in Boston's North End and loves to run. She's not a marathoner, but was in Copley Square on that horrific Monday afternoon because she had some friends running in the race.

The second explosion was detonated right next to her and so badly maimed her right leg it had to be amputated above the knee. She absorbed shrapnel in her left leg and had both her eardums destroyed in the blast.

"I felt that if I lost consciousness, I was gonna die," she said in May when recounting the blast. "So I told myself to keep breathing and stay awake as long as I could." Sdoia was saved by a "guardian angel," later identified as a Northeastern University student, who used his belt as a make-shift tourniquet for her badly injured leg. She was then carried away [literally] by Boston fire fighter Mike Materia, who held her hand while she rode in the ambulance to the hospital, and has since carried her away and become her boyfriend.

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The end.

Credits roll.

That's enough of a feel-good survivor's story right there to fill a 90-minute "Hallmark Movie Channel" flick.

Roseann AP photo.jpgBut Sdoia's story of survival and recovery has only just begun. Her tale could eventually become reality TV at its most unflinching realism.

Jonathan Rosenberg, a filmmaker and fellow amputee, has launched a Kickstater project to fund the production of a film called "Who Says Roseann Canít Run" that will document her first running steps and hopefully culminate with both Sdoia and Rosenberg running distances together.

"This film will be a story about determination, hard work, resilience, and focus with setbacks, tears, and frustration along the way," Rosenberg says.

An athlete his entire life, Rosenberg lost his right leg above the knee due to bone cancer at age 16. Now, 40 years later, he's continuing his personal crusade to aid fellow amputees with both inspirational stories via his www.whosaysicant.org web site and various fundraising efforts.

"My doctors told me chance my chance of survival was zero. I wanted to accomplish one thing, that was learning how to ski, so I skied every day for 100 straight days and became a pretty good skier. When this happens, your self-esteem gets trashed. I see this in [Boston Marathon] bombing victims, they look like deer in the headlights," Rosenberg told the OBF Blog.

Production has been self-funded to this point. The Kickstarter site, launched on Nov. 5, has raised about $3,000 of its $75,000 goal. Rosenberg has sought funding from The One Fund and elsewhere for this project, which he believes will not only benefit those survivors of the bombings but all amputees.

"There are 500 amputations a week in the U.S., most people can't afford an advanced walking [or running] prosthesis. They cost $60,000 and insurance wonít pay for running leg. I'm looking forward to be able to move post the bombing stuff and helping a much broader group of people who need it. There's no One Fund for them."

Rosenberg said the mission of this film is to both inspire people by telling Sdoia's story and offering hope to others who face similar life-altering injuries. "Every single person faces big challenges in their life. At that moment, you can cave, give in and feel sorry for yourself, or you can fight back and overcome in some way. This film is going to try and reach everyone who faces this kind of thing or will face it Ė and find inspiration in it."

Sdoia was initially skeptical about participating in this project. Rosenberg said he approached all the Marathon Bombing amputees about participating in a documentary about their recovery and gave all the survivors who were hospitalized at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital copies of his book: "Who Says I Canít".

"She's careful," Rosenberg said. "I wanted to take the concept of getting back into life by getting back into sports. I started talking to her about how great biking was for an amputee, but she didnít want to try that. And she said 'I don't like skiing.' She looked at camera and said, 'I'm a runner.'"

Rosenberg will be learning along with Sdoia as they both learn how to run on a prosthetic right leg because he's never run any distance since losing his leg, either.

"I'm glad it's my sport, that Jothy is not good at it and I want to kick his ass," she says.

A coach who specializes in prosthetic movement and "teaching amputees how to get out of the way, to dance and mostly to run" is scheduled to be brought in from Florida this week.

"Roseann is tough," Rosenberg, "But she breaks down in the film. And she won't leave house without leg on."

Don't expect a Hollywood ending in this film, which is planned to run about 60 minutes.

"She'll run well by the first anniversary. We have a lot of work planned this winter," Rosenberg said.

CBS, NBC and HBO Sports have reportedly expressed interest in Rosenberg's project and could be airing short one-to-three minute updates as they become available between now and April.

"It took me 20 years to have a perspective and understand what I learned," he said. "The public is relatively impatient. People expect some of these amputees to run the marathon. An above-the-knee amputee like Roseann should never run a marathon. You have plastic pounding against skin. It's not like your foot, which can withstand that pounding."

"Maybe next year, she could run a mile, that would be fantastic," he said. "If she could ever run a 10K -- she'd be thrilled. Hopefully people don't have unrealistic expectations."

Rosenberg still takes medication nightly to help him sleep and deal with phantom pain more than 40 years after his losing his leg. "There's some really hard stuff in this movie. Weíre not going to shy away from that. Weíll deal with a range of emotions and show what it's really like -- forward progress, setbacks and disappointments."

And when it's over.

Hopefully people will "jump and down cheering, then want to jump on a bike."

[For more information on this project: Visit the "Who Says Roseann Canít Run" Kickstarter web site.]


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