EAGLE MOUNTAIN — Two decades after they survived the mass shooting at Columbine High School, two Utah sisters will run the Boston Marathon together next week.
“As survivors, we feel this very important obligation to spread hope, and 20 years later, we finally feel like we can do that,” said Laura Hall of Eagle Mountain.
Hall, 34, was a freshman — just 14 years old — on the day two seniors opened fire at her high school. She recalls hiding in the choir room closet and worrying about her sister.
“Before I feared for my own life, I feared for her life,” she said.
Her older sister, Sarah Bush, 36, was a sophomore. She remembers the trauma inflicted on her school and community on April 20, 1999, when the gunmen killed 12 students and one teacher.
“It changed my life,” Bush said, who also lives in Eagle Mountain. “We had to grow up really fast. The things that we had to go through were something nobody should have to go through — especially not kids.”
Afterward, running became a source of healing for Bush. She ran track her junior and senior years at Columbine High School.
“It was a positive thing when there weren’t very many positive things in those next couple of years,” Bush said, adding that running was something she could control.
Hall said she suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and that it took years for her to get the help she needed. She also found a mental escape in running.
“It’s been a saving grace,” she said.
Columbine Survivors: “We got a second chance at life.”— Ladd Egan (@laddegan) April 11, 2019
20 years after the massacre at their high school, two sisters are running the #BostonMarathon together. “As survivors we feel this very important obligation to spread hope.” How #running helped them heal: 6 p.m. @KSL5TVpic.twitter.com/3GfzF0s9fT
Training together for the Boston Marathon has provided a way for the sisters to cope and stay close.
“Getting over those hurdles in a marathon, just like you do in your life, it proves to you how strong we are,” Hall said.
The marathon takes place on April, 15, nearly 20 years to the day that their lives changed forever.
“Being together in Boston and reaching this huge goal — it’s huge for us,” Bush said.
As each anniversary passes, the two say that they feel stronger and happier.
“We laugh so hard on some of our runs,” Hall said. “We’ve actually had to separate ourselves on our runs because we couldn’t make it productive.”