She holds his hand in the photo, a step ahead, in a dazzling ruby-red dress. He leans back, easy in an untucked dress shirt, as they walk in front of a vibrant plaza in Harvard Square. The clarity and staging suggest a professional engagement shot, but the look on their faces is genuine.
Maybe it is the photo, or the equally vivid character sketches beneath it of Patrick Downes and Jessica Kensky Downes, newlyweds critically injured as they watched the Boston Marathon at the finish line Monday. Jess, an MGH nurse from the West Coast, spirited and confident; Pat, a Boston College graduate and Cambridge boy, gentle, generous, and goofy; the two together, selfless and warm, cherished by their friends.
Something about them — not just their plight, but their seemingly boundless joy and photogenic charm — leapt from thousands of screens and propelled people to donate and to write. Friends, friends of friends, BC alumni, complete strangers. Within a few hours, a fund-raising page established to defray the couple’s out-of-pocket expenses had raised $23,000. By Thursday morning, it hit $150,000; by Thursday night, $300,000.
Unstated on that site, known only by some who circulated the link on social media, was that Patrick and Jessica had each lost their left leg below the knee, rushed to and operated on in different hospitals across town after Monday’s devastating bombings.
“Patrick and Jess, We are newlyweds and your picture reminds us of, well, us,” a Washington couple wrote, sending $75. “We wish you the speediest of recoveries.”
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