Boston Marathon

Marathon bombing first responder runs Boston for the first time

Devin Pao has come a long way since she helped save Jeff Bauman's life in 2013.

Devin Pao was just 20 when she became a first responder at the Boston Marathon bombing.

Working as an undergraduate student volunteer, Pao was pictured in one of the most memorable photos from the bombing that shows her pushing the wheelchair of Jeff Bauman, who lost both his legs in the attack.

FILE – In this Monday, April 15, 2013 file photo, an emergency responder and volunteers, including Carlos Arredondo, in the cowboy hat, push Jeff Bauman in a wheelchair after he was injured in one of two explosions near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. – (AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File)

This year, according to ESPN, Pao returned to Boston with her father Steve to run the Boston Marathon for the first time and raise money for Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, which helped Bauman recover after the bombings.

As of Monday, Pao raised nearly $11,000 for the hospital, where she also used to work, exceeding her goal of $9,000.


At the time of the bombing, ESPN reported, Pao was known as Devin Wang and received lots of unwanted attention for her role in helping Bauman.

She told the network that she received media requests before she had a chance to process what she had been through.

As a result, ESPN said, Pao took time off school and sought counseling, but she didn’t slow down for long.

Boston Marathon

In the next few years, ESPN reported, Pao graduated from Boston University where she studied to become an athletic trainer, and continued competing as a synchronized figure skater, winning two bronze medals in the world championship with the Lexington-based Haydenettes.

Then, in 2016, ESPN reported, Pao met Bauman in a happenstance encounter at the Boston Marathon finish line where they hugged and cried before he thanked her and invited her out to dinner.

“I think it had to happen that way,” Pao told ESPN. “Right place, right time. Unscripted, not forced.”

Now, ESPN reported, Pao is married and works as a physician’s assistant for an orthopedic surgeon. She told the network that while her experience during the bombing was traumatizing, it’s helped propel her career in healthcare.

“I think it definitely prepared me to see I can handle even the most unexpected, traumatizing things that someone can potentially see,” she said. “I’m glad I’m one of those who could move forward and help instead of having to retreat.”


Looking back at the iconic photo of her and Bauman, Pao told ESPN that she thinks she looks young.

“I definitely see myself as a student, nervous, not sure what I was doing, but very intently focused on getting from point A to point B, not causing Jeff a lot of pain. A very determined face. I’ve got someone’s life on my hands,” she said.

Coming back again to Boston to compete, Pao told ESPN the biggest thing she is feeling on the ninth anniversary of the bombing is acknowledgment of what happened, but also of all that she’s achieved afterward.

“I don’t know if there will ever be closure, and I don’t think just going and running will mean that that’s closure for me,” she said. “I think it’s a way of celebrating community, coming together.”

Pao finished the 2022 Boston Marathon with a time of 04:16:37.


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