This weekend, former First Lady Laura Bush will be in town alongside two of Boston’s most respected names – Boston Marathon survivor Jeff Bauman and hometown hero Carlos Arrendondo – at AARP’s bi-annual Life@50+ National Event & Expo.Bauman lost both of his legs in the 2013 bombing near the finish line of the Boston Marathon and was photographed being wheeled from the wreckage with the assistance of Arredondo.
The event is being held from Thursday, May 8 to Saturday, May 10 at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center. AARP, which has nearly 38 million members aged 50 and older, is coming to town to offer sports-related panels with Steve Grogan and Dan Marino, speakers like Jay Leno and Whoopi Goldberg and a free movie preview.
To officially open Life@50+, former First Lady Mrs. Laura Bush will be in conversation with her daughter Barbara Pierce Bush on Friday morning, moderated by journalist Soledad O’Brien. New England sports legends Mike Eruzione, Steve Grogan, Bill Russell, and Luis Tiant will take the stage after for a panel moderated by James "JB" Brown. The afternoon will also feature a Life Reimagined panel moderated by Soledad O’Brienwith singer Linda Ronstadt, as well as Jeff Bauman, and Carlos Arredondo.
We recently caught up with AARP member Carlos Arredondo to find out what it’s like to be called a hero, how the past year has helped him heal and what the future holds for him. “Being called a hero is not something that I take for granted,” he said. “I don’t feel like a hero. I just believe that we have an obligation to be kind to others and help out in any way we can. Other people were also helping out that day. When I first heard the bomb, there was no doubt in my mind that people were hurt. Everyone seemed to disappear in a cloud of smoke. When I saw that, I said, ‘Oh my God, I have to help out.’ I was looking at people crying and saw a lot of blood and then I saw a man with both limbs missing and something just came to me and said I have to help him out. It is very inspirational now to see Jeff get back to his life.”
Arredondo was at the finish line to honor both of his sons’ memories (his oldest son Alexander died in 2004 during Operation Iraqi Freedom and his younger son Brian committed suicide in 2011 battling depression since his older brother was killed in action). “I was at the finish line because of my boys,” he said. “I was giving away American flags as one runner ran on behalf of my son Brian for suicide prevention and a member of the National Guard was carrying a memorial for Alexander in his backpack. I volunteer for the Red Cross and it has helped myself healing. As for the future, I am trying to participate in volunteer work and will continue my work with veterans’ organizations to honor my sons.”
A Life Reimagined panel moderated by journalist Soledad O’Brien will be held on Friday, May 9, at 2 p.m. featuring Jeff Bauman and Carlos Arredondo. The Boston Convention & Exhibition Center is located at 415 Summer Street in Boston. For more information on the schedule of events, visit http://www.aarp.org/about-aarp/events/national_event/boston/schedule/.