When 5-year-old Jude Hill lost both of his feet in a lawn mowing accident two years ago, his family wasn't sure they would ever be able to afford proper-fitting prosthetics for their energetic, vibrant son who simply wanted to run.
But thanks to the kindness of Boston Marathon bombing survivor Heather Abbott, Jude is no longer side-lined by his injuries.
Abbott visited the University of Illinois Chicago Hospital Friday morning to give Jude two high-tech Blade Running Feet and two running socket prosthetics to help him run and compete in sports.
"He put them on and he started running," said David Rotter of Scheck and Siress, who made the socket for Jude's new running blades and adjusted the alignment when the young boy was surprised with them Friday. "Kids are so adaptable. You wish you could bottle some of that up."
Jude lost his feet in an accident on June 21, 2014. His father, Greg Hill, was driving a riding lawn mower when he put it in reverse, unaware his child was playing behind him.
"Didn't hear Jude, didn't see him and saw Jude's left foot spit out the cutting deck," Hill said.
The event left the Hill family of seven in a dark and difficult spot as Jude's parents navigated not only what would be their child's new reality but the financial burden of multiple surgeries and prosthetics.
Jude was fitted with proper prosthetic legs 15 months ago thanks to Rotter, but the new running blades will let him run even faster, serving as a new beginning for the young boy as he aspires to play sports, his family says. He even recently won five track and field gold medals at the 2016 UCO Endeavor Games, a feat that will undoubetdly become even easier as Jude moves forward with his new running blades.
"He just took off," Greg Hill said Friday. "It's rather indescribable...to try to put words to how well he's adapting."
Abbott, who lost her leg in the heartbreaking event that made headlines across the globe, was fitted with six different legs thanks to the kindness of strangers who reached out to help.
"I was very lucky that my tragedy was so public in a sense, because people reached out and helped," she said.
Now, she's paying that kindness forward.
Jude’s new blades were made possible by the Heather Abbott Foundation, an organization Abbott founded to help other survivors who have lost limbs during traumatic events.
"Children should be able to run," she said. "It's incredible to see [Jude] be able to do that."