Rutland woman injured in explosion recovering in MA, meeting with Marathon bombing survivors

RUTLAND, Vt. - A young Rutland woman, severely injured in a boat explosion in the Bahamas this summer, is receiving help and advice from survivors of the Boston Marathon bombing.

Stefanie Schaffer, 22, is now receiving care at Spaulding Hospital Cambridge in Massachusetts, following her double leg amputation in the Bahamas in June.

This weekend is alumni weekend at Rutland High School.

The crowd at Friday night’s football game at her high school alma mater Rutland High School will wear blue and raise funds for her recovery.

It was a request from the girls’ soccer team - which is raising money by selling “Stef Strong” T-shirts.

“Stef is such a sweet girl. Always has a smile on her face. One of those kids that everyone is drawn to because she's just very unassuming but very compassionate, always super kind to people,” said Lori McClallen, head coach of the Rutland girls’ soccer team.

McClallen spent four years as Schaffer’s soccer coach beginning in 2010.

“To know Stef and to know what a spirit she had, and she still does, always a smile on her face and to think that a tragedy like that takes your smile away for a really long time,” she said.

Between weekly appointments at Massachusetts General Hospital with orthopedic, plastic surgery and hand specialists, Schaffer is also on dialysis three times a week.

The good news, according to family friend Amy Merrill, her kidney function seems to be improving.

Schaffer has also met with up to five survivors of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. Many survivors lost limbs in that tragedy.

“A couple have actually made them dinner and brought it to the hospital. Now she has somebody to talk to who understands what she's going through. They've been really empathetic and really educating her and helping her kind of walk this next line that she has to go through,” said Merrill.

Schaffer’s cousins are also raising money by selling “Stef Strong” bracelets at Friday night’s game and at stores across Rutland.

“It's just a network. It's a small community here. Rutland is the second, or third largest in Vermont but it's still relatively small. One person knows another person and it just kind of gets passed along that way. I just think the community as a whole sometimes doesn’t get enough credit for looking after its own,” said Mike Norman, athletic & activities director at Rutland High School.

The Palms restaurant in Rutland is hosting a Collaborative Fundraiser for Stefanie Schaffer & Family on September 23rd from 12pm - 4pm.

“I think Stefanie has had good days and bad days and I think she is a very strong person and it's that strong will that's keeping her spirits up. I think the love and support from everybody is definitely well needed,” said Merrilll.

Merrill says Stefanie may get to return to Vermont in a few weeks before entering long-term inpatient rehab at Spaulding.

Her mother, Stacey Bender, was also injured in the explosion.

She is still recovering and starting to walk for short periods of time, according to Merrill.

“I would like to thank the Rutland community and the beautiful state of Vermont for opening up your hearts to our family during this most difficult of times,” wrote Bender in a statement. “All of you, as well as all those we have met on this road to recovery have shown how truly good people are. It has truly amazed us! The theme tonight is StefStrong, but please know that her strength and ours has been maintained by all the love and prayers on our behalf. We thank you so much.”

“Go Raiders!” she added.

To donate to a GoFundMe page that benefits Stefanie Schaffer & family, visit:

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