April 15, 2013 is a day the Hern family will never forget. Aaron Hern cheered for his mother, Katherine, from the Boston Marathon finish line when in the blink of an eye their lives turned upside down. Katherine, 11-weeks pregnant at the time, had reached the final stretch and watched helplessly as the two bombs exploded, sending spectators, runners and race personnel into a frenzy.
Aaron was immediately rushed to the emergency room where he received 86 staples to repair where the shrapnel had peppered his legs. Over the past four months he has shown remarkable strides toward recovery, both physically and mentally. He is back on his feet, and more incredibly the football field. “I like being quarterback and getting to throw the ball and running the offense,” explained Aaron.
Football has played a key role in the recovery process for Aaron. “Football has given him something to look forward to and stay motivated for,” said Katherine. “It’s helped give him a focus. He was torn down quite a bit and could have stayed down there for a while but experiences like this [49ers visit] have been an instrumental part of his recovery. I can’t even say that enough, how important this has been for him.”
Not only has football given Aaron motivation, it has provided a sanctuary of sorts. “I love playing football,” said Aaron, “It’s fun to be out there and just play and have fun. It’s good after what has happened; it’s a good thing to go back to.”
Football has provided a bond and distraction for father and son. “My dad is a coach and he’ll teach me sometimes at home on the couch,” said Aaron. Alan, Aaron’s father, is Alhambra High School’s head football coach. “He’s a big NFL fan and he knows all these guys,” said Alan. “We laugh because there’s not much of a difference between him and guys like
The Hern family resembles a team. They lean on one another for support. “Sticking together helped us,” said Katherine. “Breaking it down and building it back up together. Also prayer, trying not to work too hard on finding a reason for everything but trying to make something out of it moving forward.”
Aaron thoroughly enjoyed the day, absorbing the whole experience. The day included a tour of the facilities before watching practice and finished with autograph signings with the team. “It was amazing to see NFL players and meet them, watch how they play, pick up certain things, see their practice and compare it to my practices,” Aaron excitedly stated. “It was really cool!”
The visit not only benefited the Hern Family, it touched many of the 49ers. “It means a lot to me for Aaron to be here,” said linebacker
Willis took time from his recovery to discuss football with Aaron, asking about his position and learning about Aaron’s affinity for tackling and his love of the quarterback position.The team embraced Aaron throughout practice. Head coach Jim Harbaugh joined Aaron on the sideline, where they compared proper stance. The practice concluded when Aaron showed off his battle wounds to Coach Harbaugh and the team then broke the huddle with a, “One, two, three, go Niners!”