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CNN Special Report: The Survivor Diaries

Aired April 8, 2014 - 22:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening. I'm Anderson Cooper.

The bombings of the Boston bombing were among the worst terror attacks on U.S. soil since 9/11. Tonight, I'm bringing the story of one of Boston's survivors.

Her name is Adrianne Haslet-Davis. And she's a professional dancer who lost her lower left leg when the second bomb went off that morning. I met Adrianne just a week later. Her courage and defiance were simply incredible. She vowed that she would dance again.

Adrianne agreed for us to film her journey, and she, along with her husband, Adam, also filmed their everyday lives on her phone in video diaries. She told us she didn't want to sugarcoat her story, so we want to warn you, some of the video that she shot and some of the footage of the attack may be hard to the watch, but Adrianne feels strongly that people understand the real reality of what she and her family have gone through this past year.

This is "The Survivor Diaries."


ADRIANNE HASLET-DAVIS, BOSTON MARATHON BOMBING SURVIVOR: The hospital confirmed that I will be going home tomorrow.

And it makes me really sad, because I don't feel like I'm ready.

I'm scared to walk the streets of Boston for the first time after all of this, and I have been living in this bubble of safety, surrounded by countless family and friends in safe hospitals with security.

And now I'm just going to go out into the real world, and a world with bombs and strangers and memories that I don't know if I'm ready to face.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You almost never see late moves like that overcome.

HASLET-DAVIS: The day of the marathon, a gorgeous day. And we turned on the TV and watched the elite runners cross the finish line.

And I looked at Adam and I said, this guy has already run the Boston Marathon, and I'm still in my pajamas. We should go somewhere and do something. ADAM DAVIS, HUSBAND OF ADRIANNE HASLET-DAVIS: Marathon day started out absolutely beautiful and amazing. I'm in the Air Force. And I was deployed in Afghanistan for four-and-a-half months. I got back home two weeks before the bombings. I was still on my R&R time.

HASLET-DAVIS: And went down to the exact restaurant where we were having our last meal the night before he left for Afghanistan, and we were revisiting that time where we were so uncertain of the future, and not certain if he would return safe or even with all of his limbs, which is incredibly ironic.

DAVIS: And, at one point, just thinking, all right, hey, let's walk one more down -- walk down the marathon and cheer some people on.

HASLET-DAVIS: And we were walking, and all of a sudden we heard a bomb go off. There was smoke everywhere. And I wrapped my arms around Adam, buried my head in his chest and said, "The next one's going to hit, the next one's going to hit." And he said, "No, babe, no."

David And then the next thing I know, we were on the ground. And at that point, for me, everything was deathly quiet. I remember the smell of smoke. It went from a sunny day beforehand to just a dark day. Nothing I saw in Afghanistan had prepared me for this.

HASLET-DAVIS: I remember being in the fetal position, and I couldn't move my foot. I remember Adam picking up my foot and looking and just screaming a scream that you never want to hear a loved one scream.

David Her whole bottom half of her foot looked like somebody had grabbed the heel skin on one side and just ripped it around the side. I knew that there was a chance that she would never dance again.

HASLET-DAVIS: I drug my shredded body on my elbows across all the glass that had broken and getting through the door of the Forum seconds later saw Adam barrelling through the doors and running and then just collapsing. And I looked down and his shoes were completely shredded open. There was blood everywhere.

DAVIS: On my left foot, a piece of shrapnel did cut a nerve. I have got four or five shrapnel wounds on my right leg. I got my belt off, put it around Adrianne's leg, and I remember thinking, this is very ironic because four-and-a-half, I had a real tourniquet on my arm. And when do I need it? I needed it at home.

HASLET-DAVIS: And just as I thought I may not make this, barrelling through were the firemen with a board and said, "Take her first" and picked me up, put me on the board and I was gone.

And I remember being drug out to the street and seeing other people lying, and I just kept thinking of 9/11 and this must be what this was like, the panic and the -- the sheer terror that was happening around me. And I was at the hospital in no time at all.

DR. JEFFREY KALISH, SURGEON, BOSTON MEDICAL CENTER: She made it very well known to anyone within earshot that she was a dancer and that everyone had to do everything possible to save her foot.

The bomb itself and the shrapnel really tore through her Achilles tendon and her heel bone. And that led to a situation that there would be no way that anyone could have saved her foot.

HASLET-DAVIS: When I went into the surgery, I still thought that they could save my foot. I could move my toes. I could feel them touching my toes. And they said, "Wiggle your toe. Do you feel your foot?" I could still do it.

So I thought, in my forever optimism in thinking positive, that I would still have my foot.

COOPER: When did you realize you didn't have the foot?

HASLET-DAVIS: I was -- I woke up and my parents were there, and I hugged them and kissed them and I said: "Mom, can you help me? I feel like my foot's falling asleep?" because it feels like my ankle is falling off of the pillow and my foot is half on. And she looked at me and said: "Adrianne, you don't have a foot. Your foot is gone."

And I just lost it. It was really hard to hear.

COOPER: You're determined to dance again.


COOPER: Dancing is really important to you.

HASLET-DAVIS: It's so important to me. It's my life.

COOPER: What about it?

HASLET-DAVIS: Dancing is the one thing that I do that, when I do it, I don't feel like I should be doing anything else ever. I feel so free and so wonderful.

I'm big on music and I feel like all of us when we hear music we kind of move to the music and I feel like...

COOPER: I don't. I stay rock-solid, because I'm such a bad dancer.



HASLET-DAVIS: We're going to change that.

I told you I'm going to teach you. I'm going to teach you.


COOPER: I would like that. I would like that very much -- I'm a tough student.

HASLET-DAVIS: That's OK. I'm going to hold you to that. Now it's on camera.


COOPER: How are you coping with this new reality?

HASLET-DAVIS: You know, it's minute by minute. Overall, I'm excited for the challenge. I look at this as someone trying to stop me from realizing my dreams, and I'm going to prove them wrong.

I'm terrified that I -- I don't know if I have the tools to face it. I feel like I can stay as positive as possible, but it doesn't mean that the outside world isn't going to hurt me.

First time at the Boston memorial. I'm just going to go check it out and see what's going on.

I wheeled right into a crowd. And a woman comes up to me and she just immediately hugs me. And then another woman comes up and hugs me. I went into complete panic and stranger danger, which I then glanced over and saw the memorial and all the shoes. And it was like it was happening in slow motion. And I was a wreck.

It was my first day out in the real world, and it was very eye-opening that that was going to be my new normal for a long time.

I'm on my way. They are going to fit me for my leg. Yay!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Here's your foot.

DAVIS: She's standing on her own.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you want me to tell you each time I'm going to pull? Do you want me not to tell you?




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. We will take a break on that one.

HASLET-DAVIS: How am I doing, Adam?

DAVIS: Good, baby.

HASLET-DAVIS: Is it scary-looking?





UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You are doing amazing.


HASLET-DAVIS: I have become so much more brave.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You were brave...


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... brave to begin with.


HASLET-DAVIS: Well, I think I became brave after that bomb went off.


HASLET-DAVIS: Having seen my ankle torn to shreds, I'm realizing that this is going to be my leg now once the stitches come out. That means that it's all permanent.



C. HASLET: And strong.

Look at that smile.


C. HASLET: She is so graceful. There's always a smile on her face. Good for you, girl. You go, girl. She left him in the dust.


C. HASLET: Oh, it makes me happy to see her so happy. Dancing, to her, is like breathing. It just comes naturally. It's something she needs to do. She loves to be moving, always.

B. HASLET: Once she got in to the dancing, that she enjoyed dancing so much that everything else was gone. Anything she does, she gets in to quite a bit. Once she got in to dancing, she was full-bore.

DAVIS: When she dances, I see her just glow. I see her light up. She is a very expressive, outgoing person. And I think that is just like one -- a great form of expression for her is just with her entire body is moving across the dance floor. And to all of a sudden have it removed in a split-second is just -- I mean, it's devastating. HASLET-DAVIS: I am on my way to a prosthetician appointment. Still working on that word. And they are going to fit me for my legs. Yay! So exciting!

You and those two legs walking all fast? I'm so going to race you later.


HASLET-DAVIS: I'm sick of only wearing one shoe. Not only did I bring shoes. I brought dance shoes.



HASLET-DAVIS: The important ones, yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All right, so grab your leg.

HASLET-DAVIS: Oh, my gosh. She said leg. I'm so excited.

Oh, my gosh. Hi.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Here's your foot.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Look at the other side.

C. HASLET: This is like seeing my child walk for the first time again. It's pretty emotional and it's pretty exciting. But she's a star. She's amazing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So stand up for me.

Does it hurt?

DAVIS: No. She's standing on her own.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So what do you feel? And what I need you to differentiate -- OK? You're doing good, at your own speed.



HASLET-DAVIS: It feels really good just to stand up right now. I haven't stood up in a really long time. I almost forgot what it felt like. It reminds me of dancing. And I just so desperately want that again. And I am so close. It feels really good.

I feel like I could do this all day.

DAVIS: I love you. Congratulations.

HASLET-DAVIS: I love you, too. Thanks.

DAVIS: That's pretty sexy.

HASLET-DAVIS: Is it sexy?



HASLET-DAVIS: I'm taking my morning cocktail. I'm taking this one for anxiety. It basically is a pill that will help me not be so anxious for those moments that aren't so positive and happy.

That's just a sign of PTSD, I think. Navigating the streets of Boston for the first time, it was really tough. I thought everybody had a bomb. I hate even saying things like that out loud, because it sounds crazy, but I would just -- I had horrible anxiety. Obviously, I know now that the majority of the population isn't like the two bombers, but it's hard. I mean, I don't know when or if that will go away.

Part of my PTSD was always thinking that a bomb would go off at all times.

DAVIS: Can we please have somebody stop setting off fireworks, please?





So, I haven't done one of these in quite a while. My PTSD has gotten to the point where I just sort of shut down the reality of knowing that someone tried to kill you and letting that sink in.

It's just been really difficult. Part of my PTSD was always thinking that a bomb would go off at all times.

They lit fireworks over the harbor. And all of a sudden, we heard explosions. And I started screaming and crying and called 911.


DAVIS: Can you please have somebody stop setting off fireworks? Please.

HASLET-DAVIS: We keep yelling stop with the fireworks.

DAVIS: The fireworks in the harbor, stop them.

OK. Was your foot blown off like my wife's was in the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) bombing?

HASLET-DAVIS: I have gone through many, many stages, not only of PTSD, but also of mourning the loss of my leg.

I just want to go to bed like a normal person, like, without taking my leg off. I want you to feel my legs around you.

I'm so over putting on my leg when I have to pee. I'm so over you taking off my leg every night. I'm so over stumbling over steps.

It didn't sink in that this is life now, and I'm on the other side of sadness. I'm coming close to acceptance, but I'm not there yet.

DAVIS: Here's Adrianne trying to do a handstand. There she goes in the water. Yeah! Woo!

HASLET-DAVIS: Did I do it?

DAVIS: Yes, both legs straight up. And here we go again, try number two. Perfect form. Perfect form.

Our trip to the cape in July was our first time together outside of the Boston area since after the bombing. The fact that she could stand up, like on one foot using the water to help brace herself, she was able to swim, she was able to do handstands in the water, she's now out there now doing everything that she used to do on her own, literally on her own.

HASLET-DAVIS: The cape was a turning point for me. We needed time away from the memories of the city streets and just to be in a quiet house. It was definitely a game-changer.

DAVIS: We talked about her future dance career. We talked about my military career, and are there any changes we need to make to our life's plans, and for the most part, our big picture of where we want to see our lives as a couple hasn't changed. We started replanning our lives again.

HASLET-DAVIS: Today, Adam and I are going to talk to the prosecuting team about the case, and we are going through every gruesome detail leading up to the moment of the bombing, everything from what it felt like to the injuries.

They want to know how it's impacted us, how has it not, really. They want to know if we would like them to seek the death penalty, which has been weighing heavy on our hearts.

I think they want to know as much information as possible to get this guy. I always questioned whether I would be able to be in the same courtroom as him. But if they need me there, I will be there. And justice needs to be done. I don't think about him often, but today's the day that I have to.

We're here at the Forum, back for its reopening for the public for the first time. And this is it behind us, lots of memories. This mailbox right next to us blocked a lot of people from the blast.

DAVIS: That one spot, of course, is very emotional for us and very symbolic, as it being the point of where it happened. HASLET-DAVIS: We're going to walk in.

DAVIS: I think it was important for us to go back to conquer the fear of that spot, push towards like, you know, a little bit more of that healing, one more, like, all right, yes, this is where it happened, but it's, you know, not, you know, where we lost our lives. It's just where a very traumatic event happened to us.

HASLET-DAVIS: I remember you. I think about you when my eyes shut, and I think of that day and I think about what happened. And I think about the smoke, and I think about what happened. I think about that day.

GRAPHIC: Adrianne reunites with a Forum employee who comforted her until firefighters arrived.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was praying for you, that you were OK. I got home that day, and I was like, God, please make sure she's fine.

HASLET-DAVIS: It felt amazing to be able to see him and to hug him and to tell him that he was the reason why I was able to make it through those early minutes.


HASLET-DAVIS: I can live with that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, my goodness.

HASLET-DAVIS: There's a lot of healing that comes with being able to go back to the Forum. It seemed like a less scary place.

GRAPHIC: Coming up.

HASLET-DAVIS: I'm at the studio and just tried dancing again. Determination is going to get me through, but, crap, it's hard.


HASLET-DAVIS: I'm at the studio.

GRAPHIC: Arianne is ready to try dancing again for the first time.

HASLET-DAVIS: And I just tried dancing again. Feels pretty awful. I can't quite do it yet, and I just feel my limits so much. I'm just terrified that my leg is going to give out from me and makes me not go all out.

Determination is going to get me through, but crap, it's hard.

It's so hard. And it's interesting because you -- like right now I'm rolling through my foot better. But...

Right around that same time that I was in the studio, I met Dr. Hugh Herr, who is a professor at MIT. And he is the top, if not one of the top designers of prosthetics in the world. I'm really excited about today.

DR. HUGH HERR, PROFESSOR, MIT: Yes, me too. Me too.

HASLET-DAVIS: It's like Christmas.

We came up with the idea that he was going to help me dance again.

HERR: I lost my legs in 1982. And my injury (ph) was to climb mountains again. So I really emotionally connect with Adrianne's mission to dance again.

So you are going to do the waltz and the cha-cha.

What we're doing today is taking Adrianne's friend and colleague Kia (ph), a dancer. And Kia (ph) is going to dance some of Adrianne's favorite dances.

So we put those markers across Kia's (ph) body...


HERR: ... and the cameras and the software tell us where that marker is in 3-D space.

HASLET-DAVIS: Back twinkle into a check and rotate.

HERR: We're going to measure everything about the dance: the movements, the forces. We're going to embed that into the bionic ankles that Adrianne will be fitted with in the future.

HASLET-DAVIS: Kia's (ph) dancing both a rhythm and a smooth dance: a waltz and a cha-cha. That just helps him kind of define and start to work on different movements in dance.


Yes, let's do it. Let's do it. Cha-cha's my favorite!

HERR: This is a very hard problem. Dancing, it's not repetitive like something like walking and running. It's varied; every step is different. There hasn't really been a lot of work in dance limb technology. So part of making Adrianne's dream come true is inventing a whole new type of prosthesis, and that's what we're doing here today.

HASLET-DAVIS: I do feel closer to dancing again now. It's great to know that I have a team of people that are working on it.

Thank you so much. Thank you.

I just -- I hope that this helps someone else wanting to dance in the future.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We welcome back the inspiring couple who embody the phrase "Boston Strong," Adrianne Haslet-Davis and United States Air Force Major Adam Davis.

HASLET-DAVIS: One, two, three. Play ball!

DAVIS: Play ball!

HASLET-DAVIS: Since the marathon, I've had a huge outpouring of support from Boston.

We were invited to the Red Sox parade.

Red Sox, woo!

I was cheering for the people that were lined up. The Red Sox parade went straight down Boylston Street where the marathon happened and right across the finish line.

I was so proud of Boston, because I know it was on my mind, and I bet that it was on everyone else's mind that something could happen.

I think people feel this strong sense of resilience. They want to fight back with just their sheer presence and show that they're not scared. And what I've received from that is pretty incredible.

GRAPHIC: Eight months after the bombing.

Adrianne invites Anderson to Boston to see her dance on her new prosthetic leg.

HASLET-DAVIS: So nice to see you.

COOPER: Nice to see you. You look great.

HASLET-DAVIS: Thank you. Hi.

COOPER: How are you?


COOPER: You look amazing.

HASLET-DAVIS: Thanks. I wasn't quite as mobile the last time.

COOPER: I know. Amazing.

HASLET-DAVIS: Yes, right?

This is my new home away from home. I moved from a dance studio to MIT.

GRAPHIC: She also wants to fulfill her promise of a dance lesson for Anderson.

HASLET-DAVIS: Hey! How's it going?

COOPER: Hey, how are you? Anderson. Nice to meet you.

What are you going to be doing today?

HERR: We have a bionic limb that we're designing for dance and will sense that Adrianne is on her toe and spinning and stiffen the ankle in the right way.

COOPER: This is incredible as a piece of machinery. It's awesome.

What are the different parts?

HERR: So your calf muscle is basically the motor in here. That goes to the Achilles tendon, which is represented by this black spring.



HERR: And then there's computers on board that control that calf leg muscle in the same way that your spinal cord controls your calf.

HASLET-DAVIS: Can we dance now?

HERR: Let's do it.

HASLET-DAVIS: One, two, three, four and one, two, three, four. And one -- you've got to learn all this. Right? There's going to be a quiz later.

HERR: Ready?



COOPER: So in terms of her progress, what do you think?

HERR: Staggeringly well. I'm just -- I'm so happy to see how well she's doing.

It's just been months since the bombings. I'm so proud of Adrianne, because she's just succeeding and winning.

Nice. That was awesome.

COOPER: That was good.

HASLET-DAVIS: Thank you.

HERR: So are you ready for a partner perhaps?


COOPER: All right.

HASLET-DAVIS: Let's dance. Lesson one.

COOPER: Be easy on me now. HASLET-DAVIS: I am -- I am going to be easy on you, I promise.

COOPER: All right.


COOPER: Yes. Not to dance with you, just to dance in general.





COOPER: Not to dance with you. Just to dance in general.

HASLET-DAVIS: Thank you for being so specific. Appreciate that.

You start with your left foot. You can take a step toward me. Here we go. And forward, side, together and back.

COOPER: Side, together.

HASLET-DAVIS: Yes, see. Totally got it. This is rumba.

COOPER: I'm not sure this is technically really -- I'm not sure we're actually dancing yet.

HASLET-DAVIS: It is. This is like high school, right?

COOPER: And you know what? This actually was very much like my high school.

HASLET-DAVIS: It was. Right? Or like this.

COOPER: Yes, that's how all my dates ended with girls. Thank you, good night. OK, Good night.

HASLET-DAVIS: I don't know what to do with you. Bye.

So if we with added timing to it. Slow, quick, quick slow. Quick, quick slow. Good. Make your steps really small. Quick, quick slow. Quick, quick slow. Nice. Yes!

COOPER: Honestly, I keep forgetting which leg of yours is the prosthetic.



HASLET-DAVIS: Nice. That means it's moving like the other one.

COOPER: Yes, it is. HASLET-DAVIS: Yea!

I didn't -- I didn't think I would be here the last time I saw you. It feels good to be making progress.

COOPER: You're making amazing progress.

HASLET-DAVIS: As are you. One, two, nice.

COOPER: I'm turning. One, two, three.

HASLET-DAVIS: You totally got it. Nice job. Nice job.

COOPER: Congratulations.

HASLET-DAVIS: Thank you. Thank you.

COOPER: Nice job. Thank you.

You've come down here a couple of times.

HASLET-DAVIS: I have. I have come down here a couple of times. I've only walked by the Forum on the sidewalk since that day once, and that was to revisit the Forum.

COOPER: Is there a day that goes by that you don't think about -- about that day?

HASLET-DAVIS: You're always reminded of it. I try and concentrate on the things that I've accomplished recently, but I'll tell you on the hard days when I want to just get up and stay in bed, I feel like if I did that that the super horrible things that I can't say on television man that did this to me will win, and that's not going to happen.

COOPER: You don't use the name of the person who did this.

HASLET-DAVIS: No. I don't even know how to pronounce it. I haven't learned. I'm happy about that.

COOPER: You don't want to say it?

HASLET-DAVIS: No, then it would run through my head.

COOPER: There will be a trial. Is that something you may be called in for?

HASLET-DAVIS: It is. I have actively pursued participating in it.

COOPER: You want to participate?

HASLET-DAVIS: I do. I know I'll see him, and I know that it will be incredibly emotional. But I also know that I am strong enough to do it, and I need to do it.

COOPER: Have you told authorities what you would like to see happen to him? HASLET-DAVIS: I have. Yes. That's a question that I've been trying to answer for myself, and I haven't yet, but I know what my gut feels.

COOPER: Do you want to say what it feels?

HASLET-DAVIS: Death penalty.

COOPER: So you would like to see this person die?

HASLET-DAVIS: I do, yes.

COOPER: What's the thinking on it?

HASLET-DAVIS: You know, I don't feel like -- I don't feel like you can get away with something like that.

COOPER: Was that a hard decision for you to make?

HASLET-DAVIS: I didn't make it without thinking about it, long and hard.

My memory of exactly where we were right here is a little bit foggy. I crawled on my arms. I cut my elbows open, and crawled over here into the doorway.

COOPER: Does it feel like a long time ago?

HASLET-DAVIS: It feels like so long ago and it feels like it just happened. It's both, minute by minute. Yes.

GRAPHIC: New Year's Eve, 2013.

HASLET-DAVIS: I remember last year sitting on New Year's, sitting in this apartment without Adam and without knowing what challenges I would face in the new year.

I remember thinking that my phrase of 2013 was to win at life, whatever that meant. I wasn't even sure at the time, but, wow, there's so much to celebrate. I cannot wait for that ball to drop.

As I stand here tonight, I can't help but think that I totally won at life at 2013. So cheers! I would rather have champagne than real pain. I would rather have my husband home than not home, and I'd rather have a prosthetic on my leg than not. So I have a lot to be thankful for this year. Bye, 2013.

GRAPHIC: Nine and a half months after the bombing.

HASLET-DAVIS: Here we are just waiting to check in. We are packed, and off we'll go.

We just boarded the plane to Costa Rica.

DAVIS: Costa Rica.

HASLET-DAVIS: We are ready to embark on our Costa Rican shark-diving adventure. Ready to go meet some great whites, and whale sharks, and reef sharks, and tiger sharks and whatever else, oh, and hammerheads.

I have had a life-long dream of swimming with sharks, and the dream is coming true.

This is the fin that I use.

Today we are on board the Undersea Hunter, and we have diving with sharks, very, very large sharks.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So we're going to have no deeper than 18 meters. We're going to have a 45-minute dive.

OK. Are you ready? One, two, three and roll.

HASLET-DAVIS: I feel so much more calm and so much more me and so much more relaxed than I have felt since the marathon. No flashbacks, no sirens, no hectic world.

To be here is pretty fantastic, especially after all that Adam and I have been through this past year. Having survived and gone through what I've gone through since the marathon bombings, I knew that time was of the essence. You know, you never know what's going to happen the next day. So my bucket list is more of a priority now.

I live life to the fullest.

Emotionally, this trip did so much for me. It helped me realize that I am limitless. I still have fear, but it's about conquering that fear, a little bit braver than before. I'm definitely more brave and willing to take a little bit more risk in life.

Diving factors into whether or not I'm dancing again. It gave me the confidence to know that everything that's worth doing takes a little time and takes a little challenge, and dancing is no different.

GRAPHIC: Eleven months after the bombing.

HERR: It was 3.5 seconds between the bomb blast and the Boston terrorist attack. In 3.5 seconds, the criminals and cowards took Adrianne off the dance floor. In 200 days, we put her back.

HASLET-DAVIS: I am backstage about to dance for the first time since the Boston Marathon. I am dressed, and ready to go. I'm shaking like a leaf and very nervous. I can't believe this is happening. I can't believe I'm dancing.

GRAPHIC: Adrianne's first public appearance since the bombing at the annual TED Conference.

HASLET-DAVIS: That could have never been accomplished if not for the unwavering support from family and friends and my incredible husband, Adam, who I can't even say the name of without crying.

HERR: We will not be intimidated, brought down, diminished, conquered or stopped by acts of violence.

HASLET-DAVIS: I'm so excited. I've got to go. Wish me luck.

HERR: Ladies and gentlemen, please allow me to introduce Adrianne Haslet-Davis. Her first performance since the attack.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She is one of the bravest people I know. She wanted to heal in happiness. She is going to show the world that nothing is going to stop her.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She's shown strengths that we didn't know she had.

DAVIS: I think her strength and her drive to not let this event define her, just to let it add to her, is what keeps her going.

HASLET-DAVIS: It's important to me not to be called a victim. A victim means that I belong to somebody or I'm suffering. I'm not suffering, I'm thriving. I am a survivor.

GRAPHIC: Adrianne & Adam plan to return to the finish line at this year's Boston Marathon...

... to cheer on her brothers, who are running in her honor.


COOPER: Tonight we brought you the remarkable story of Adrianne Haslet-Davis and her husband, Adam. They're just two of Boston's survivors. So many more were dealt such heavy blows on that tragic April day. So many more have struggled, fought and triumphed over terror in the last year.

Like Adrianne, many still have far to go in their recovery, but like her they, too, are defiant. They will win in the end. They are all Boston Strong, and we salute them.

I'm Anderson Cooper. Good night.