Boston Marathon bombing survivor Marc Fucarile, shown during an appearance at Fenway Park in 2014, said the BAA has not been very receptive to hand cyclists such as himself. (Darren McCollester/Getty Images)
Boston Marathon bombing survivor Marc Fucarile, who competed in Monday’s race propelling a hand cycle, joined Dennis & Callahan with Minihane on Tuesday morning to talk about his experience and question the Boston Athletic Association’s treatment of handicapped athletes. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
Fucarile, who recently returned to the Boston area after spending a year at Walter Reed Medical Center in Maryland as he continues to be treated for his injuries, said Monday’s experience was “amazing” due to the support of family, friends and fans. However, he expressed some disappointment with comments apparently made by an announcer, who said it’s much easier for someone to complete the course in a hand cycle than a wheelchair.
“I don’t know if the guy just used … a poor choice of words and not thinking what he was saying,” said Fucarile, who lost his right leg in the bombing. “The BAA hasn’t really been too welcoming to us as hand cyclists. More so the wounded veterans than me, [fellow bombing survivors] Patrick [Downes] and Jess [Kensky]. Patrick Downes has been fighting for Team Achilles to get more bibs [race numbers] because they keep making cutbacks on the bibs. I think it’s kind of sad and pathetic.”
Fucarile said BAA executive director Tom Grilk does not take a positive view of hand cycles, “doesn’t like it, thinks they’re not safe.”
“They want elite athletes,” Fucarile said. “And I can’t think of on Patriots Day any more elite athletes than wounded warriors to ride. These guys lost numerous limbs, brain damage, spinal cord injuries, the whole nine yards. Some of them aren’t able to ride wheelchairs.”
Added Fucarile: “I just think the [announcer] used a bad choice of words. But then again, like I said, Boston Marathon, they only want elite athletes is what they claim. … They’re just not too welcoming, which is really, really, really sad on Patriots Day, not welcoming wounded warriors in our country. But we’re going to address that, I think. Patrick’s been dealing with them for the last two years, trying to convince the BAA to allow more wounded veterans and hand cyclists in the race. But I offer anybody that wants to try the 26.2 miles on a hand cycle, I’ll let them use my bike and they can see how ‘easy’ it is.”
The other controversy surrounding the survivors deals with two movies that are being made in Boston this year. Representatives from both movies — one starring Mark Wahlberg as a policeman and the other featuring Jake Gyllenhaal as survivor Jeff Bauman — were visible Monday. Bill Richard, whose 8-year-old son Martin was killed in the attacks, told D&C Monday that he spoke to Wahlberg and asked that his family not be portrayed in the film.
Fucarile said he has not spoken to anyone affiliated with either movie, but he does not object to Hollywood telling the story.
“I’ve got mixed feelings on it,” Fucarile said. “I’m just one of many that was injured that day. As long as they do it right. I don’t like the fact of anybody getting wealthy off of a tragedy that people went through. I just hope they’re doing the right thing with some proceeds of it to people. I hope they’re doing the right thing with getting it right and respecting people’s wishes that don’t want to be included in it, and their family. I just hope they respect that wishes.
“I’ve never personally spoke to him as far as anything, or the director along the movie, they never reached out to me, personally — which I think they probably should have reached out to everybody that was involved in it one way or another. But I know the Collier family [MIT policeman Sean Collier was killed during the Tsarnaev brothers’ attempt to escape] let them shoot at the family house, so, seeing that, that allows me to feel better about it. Patrick and Jessica are going to be either advising it, gave their rights to put their story part to it, I’m not a hundred percent sure, but as long as they’re benefiting from it — and I know Patrick and Jessica, they do their homework and they don’t want to be a part of anything that’s going to be portrayed wrong. So that makes me feel better about it.
“I’m not sure. I personally have been kind of caught up in my own messy situation with my situation. I haven’t really spoken to many about it, how they feel.”