Head up, heart strong, Boston bound

Dawn Castillo Harper and her mom, Marie Castillo
Dawn Castillo Harper and her mom, Marie Castillo
Marie Castillo appeared in video released by FBI last year
Marie Castillo appeared in video released by FBI last year

As runners gear up for the Boston Marathon on Monday, a local couple will be heading there to watch their daughter cross the finish line.

The bombs kept Dawn Castillo Harper from finishing last year, but this year she's even stronger and more determined.

"And she says, 'Make sure that you meet me at the finish line,'" said Marie Castillo last year. She had gone to watch her daughter, Dawn, run her first Boston Marathon.

Marie was so close to the bombing and those responsible, she's in the video shown nationwide walking just behind the suspects shortly before the explosions. She is seen wearing a pink jacket and carrying a black purse.  Marie knows she came close to being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Despite the trauma of it all, Marie and her husband are returning this year to watch Dawn cross the finish line. We talked to Marie at her home in Sulphur and were joined by Dawn via Face Time.

"Hello to all of my friends.  I'm sure we are Facebook friends, but hello," she said.

This first marathon since the bombing is filled with meaning.

"The finish line is maybe 100 feet from where I catch the train every morning and so, it's just a constant reminder of one, what I was unable to finish last year and two, and more importantly, it reminds me of the lives that were lost and the lives that were injured," said Dawn.

Dawn, who went to Sulphur High, is an attorney in Boston.  She's training hard and raising money for a police department in the Boston area.

"The Watertown Police Department are the officers that caught the bombers.  I immediately knew, you know what? I'm going to raise money for Watertown. I've hosted two fund raisers and I'm raising money on line. The money I'm raising will help fund on the street police officers responding to active shooter situations, since that, unfortunately, has become a huge part of the U.S. today," said Dawn.

She was not quite to the finish line last year when the bomb went off.  But Dawn is determined to finish this year for herself and the victims.

"I have a friend that told me wise words.  She said,  'Head up, heart strong' and I have lived by that for the last year," said Dawn.

And as promised a year ago, Dawn's parents will be there to cheer her on.

"I am really very proud of her.  She's gone a long ways to be happy and running she loves. I'll be there every inch of the way," said Marie.  

And so, resilience, relentless determination and lots of heart are all set to come together on Monday, April 21 which is Patriots' Day in Massachusetts.

For a link to Dawn's fundraising activities click here or go to http://www.crowdrise.com/watertown/fundraiser/dawnharper

Click here or go to http://npr8.tumblr.com/tagged/dawn-castillo-harperto read Dawn's blog.

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