Just minutes after finishing the Boston Marathon, Megan Conner heard and felt the first bomb blast that shocked the city and the nation on April 15.
“I saw the smoke, and I heard the blast. I was just a couple of blocks away,” said Conner, a 1998 graduate of Granbury High School who works in the music business as a songwriter, singer and producer.
Although she said the incident seemed unreal, she realized what had happened.
“As soon as I heard it, I knew. There was no question in my mind, it was a bomb,” Conner said Wednesday by phone from Nashville.
Conner returned to Nashville two days after the terroristic attack and reacted by writing a song dedicated to the city, titled “Dear Boston.” She put together a video for YouTube featuring the 3-minute, 40-second song.
Conner’s song video was posted on YouTube Tuesday and had about 36,400 views by press time Thursday.
“Dear Boston” can be downloaded online for $1 at CDbaby.com., and Conner said she’s donating 100 percent of her profits from the song to The One Fund Boston to help support the bombing victims and their families.
She said her song has been featured on several radio and television programs, as well as on USAtoday.com. She sang it on Sunday at a music venue in Nashville during a benefit for the victims.
“When I came back, I knew I had to (write the song),” Conner said. “The reason I was there was to do the song. If people are seeing the video and being moved by it, that’s what matters.”
Conner, whose stepfather Dick Rice died of liver cancer in 2004, ran in Boston for her latest marathon fundraising effort benefitting the American Liver Foundation. She raised more than $6,000 as one of those who ran there for the foundation.
“He and Megan were very close, for him to be her stepfather,” her mother Pat Rice said, noting that Megan’s first marathon was several years ago in Chicago.
Conner was born in North Carolina and moved with her mother to Granbury when she was 4 years old. Rice lives in Greensboro, N.C. Megan’s father, George Conner, lives in Eden, N.C.
“She considered Texas her home,” Pat said.
Rice said she spoke to Megan on the phone just after she completed her run, before the first bomb exploded. Rice was at the Westin Hotel waiting for Megan. She sensed that her daughter had left the danger area before the explosions.
“I was really worried, but yet I felt confident she was okay,” Rice said. “I’m very grateful we were all okay. All you can do is feel sympathy or empathy for those that lost loved ones or were injured.”
After the blast, people began to pour in from the street to the lobby of the hotel – only about a half block from the terror scene.
One woman collapsed once inside the hotel lobby, and Rice said she heard her say, “I saw terrible things.”
“People were crying and trying to make contact with their cell phones,” Rice said. “People were just helping other people that were distraught or in shock.”
Rice said her daughter finished the race in 3 hours, 49 minutes. She said that was a good time, considering she has been having physical therapy to deal with a lingering leg injury. Conner, as one of the charity runners, had to start near the back of the pack in the field of thousands. Despite that, her time turned out to be fast enough that she easily cleared the finish line before the tragedy unfolded.
Conner had been an all-state choir selection in high school and was in theater and related activities. She had not been involved in athletics or running until after she became a fitness instructor while living in New York City, where she moved after graduating from Baylor University with a degree in theater performance.
“I grew up always singing and performing,” Conner said. “I moved to New York, and I was going to get into acting. I taught fitness classes in New York and kind of let my singing go.
“Performing is my heart, but I’m not in this to get famous. I’m in it because I love it,” Conner said. “I just want to affect people with my music, and that’s what this has done. I’m very thankful and grateful. It’s really amazing.”
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