5 Important Life Lessons I Learned from Jessica and Patrick

This past Friday, the Brownstone office had the sincere pleasure of meeting Jessica Kensky and Patrick Downes, the newlywed couple who suffered unimaginable tragedy as spectators of the Boston Marathon in 2013. 

But the challenges that awaited the young couple after they woke in different hospitals and began to acclimate to lives as amputees have not stopped the dynamic duo from serving as shining examples of good overcoming evil.

You might remember that Brownstone Insurance became involved with a fantastic organization called NEADS: Dogs for Deaf and Disabled Americans immediately following last year's Boston Marathon. As an organization, we make it our goal to support community efforts each year. Following last year's marathon, we knew we wanted to help, but we wanted it to be in a very personal way.

I came across the story of NEADS' campaign, "Pawsitively Strong," shortly after the marathon. Their goal is to provide specially trained service dogs to survivors of the Boston Marathon bombings for free. NEADS spends thousands of dollars and countless hours caring for and training these amazing service dogs, and this campaign really hit home with the staff of Brownstone. I don't think any of us planned for just how much our relationship with NEADS would change our lives though.

I arranged for Cathy Zemaitis, Director of Development for NEADS, and her service dog Currahee, to visit our office and give a demonstration of just how talented these dogs are. We were hooked. We quickly told Cathy that we wanted to sponsor the first pairing of a service dog with a Boston Marathon bombing survivor.

When I received the call that the first match had been made between a service dog and Jessica Kensky, I was thrilled for her. I had already heard about Jessica and her husband Patrick on numerous social media and news outlets and couldn't wait to hear more about her journey with her service dog.

Cathy explained that Jessica had been paired with aptly-named service dog, Rescue! Rescue was named by the Worcester Firefighter's Association who donate money each year to NEADS as part of their Name a Puppy Program. Perfect, right?!

This past Friday, Jessica and Patrick were kind enough to agree to come visit the Brownstone office and to share their story of what life has been like with Rescue. The experience was truly touching.

Here are 5 important life lessons that I walked away with after meeting Jessica, Patrick and Rescue:

#1 - Good will always overcome evil. This sounds almost Disney-ish, but it's the truth. Maybe it doesn't always happen as quickly as we'd like it to, but in the end good people will live fulfilling, meaningful lives and bad people won't. Plain and simple.

#2 - Attitude is everything. Sometimes a simple positive outlook and some enthusiasm can cure the worst day. Have you ever been around a "Debbie Downer" and suddenly find yourself having a negative attitude too? It works the same way with positivity! So learn to look on the bright side of things and see what happens.

#3 - Life is too short and precious to waste doing things you don't want to do or with people who bring you down. 

#4 - Service dogs are positively amazing animals and more people could benefit from becoming educated about them. There are service dogs to assist and benefit many different cases including: those with physical challenges, hearing impaired, visually impaired, soldiers with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, those with behavioral challenges and so many others. Yet with so many individuals benefitting from the aid of a service dog today, there are individuals that still do not respect laws and etiquette when encountering them. Check out this great resource published by NEADS outlining the rights of service dog owners.

#5 - Never underestimate the love of a pet. Jessica and Patrick's dog Rescue is a service dog, sure, but he's also a dog who looks at his owners with sincere love and willingness to help them in exchange for some belly rubs and kisses. I've always been a firm believer that every child should grow up with a pet of some sort. Pets provide companionship, a sense of responsibility and unfaltering love. I personally own two cats and two dogs and could never imagine a life that did not include the love of pets. They truly make a difference and can put a smile on my face even after my worst day.

Here are some photos of our afternoon with Jessica, Patrick, Rescue and Cathy and Currahee!