After spending days in the Intensive Care Unit at Boston Children's Hospital, the Bay Area family of an 11-year-old boy injured in the Boston Marathon bombing had some good news to cheer about Thursday.
Aaron Hern, 11, is doing much better medically, and he had a special visitor surprise him in his hospital room.
First Lady Michelle Obama was at Aaron's bedside Thursday afternoon, to the thrill of his family.
Obama accompanied her husband to Boston to take part in a church service Thursday morning. The couple then split up in the afternoon and paid visits to several hospitals in the city. The First Lady visited Boston Children's Hospital where she met with the Herns.
Aaron's doctors said he is doing much better, three days after twin explosions ripped through the street near the Boston Marathon finish line. Surgeons were able to close the largest shrapnel wound on his leg during a second operation on Wednesday, according to the family.
His mother's Facebook post said this was a "huge step forward."
Aaron's mother's posted the following post to Facebook:
"Hi everyone! Busy and exciting morning. Aaron is almost completely "unhooked" from everything. Off oxygen, catheter, neck brace, etc. all that's left is pain medicine and fluids. Huge step forward. He may be out of the ICU as early as tomorrow. Physical therapy folks came in and started talking about what we have to do there. For now he will start out slow with just sitting up and turning in bed. Still not sure exactly how long we'll be here but sounding shorter than longer!"
The Herns said the 11-year-old boy might even be able to leave the ICU on Friday.
Aaron (pictured below) was with his father, Alan, his sister, Abby, and two family friends cheering on his mother , Katherine, as she finished the marathon when the boy was hit by shrapnel from the second bomb during Monday's twin blasts.
His father said he was just 6 feet away from the device.
Doctors at Boston Children's Hospital have said Aaron likely would be in the hospital for seven to 10 days.
Aaron turns 12 on May 1 and his family hopes to be back home in the Bay Area by then.
The Hern family is well known in Martinez.
Patriarch Alan Hern is the football coach at Alhambra High School. His wife Katherine Hern is a member of the Kiwanis club and active fundraiser in the community.
Aaron's classmates at Martinez Junior High School spent time this week making get-well cards, and the school is collecting money to help the family pay for an unplanned extended stay in Boston while Aaron recovers.
Community members in Martinez are also helping in any way they can.
Roxanne Cole, the owner of restaurant and wine bar Roxx on Main, welcomed diners to the business for a fundraiser for the family during the lunch and dinner hours on Tuesday.
Employees at the restaurant worked for free on Tuesday, and other local businesses, including Chairs for Affairs, donated supplies, Cole said.
"If you know anything about Martinez, we're a very tight-knit community, and I wanted to do something to help," she said.
Cole said the event netted $4,500, with all proceeds going to help cover the family's transportation and housing expenses.
Cole said she would continue to hold the same fundraiser each Tuesday until the Hern family returns home.
The public will have more chances to dine and donate to the Herns at a fundraiser at Mountain Mike's Pizza at 1160 Arnold Drive in Martinez today from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. The fundraiser will continue every day through Sunday.
Sunday through Wednesday, customers at Kinder's Meats and BBQ throughout Contra Costa County can donate 15 percent of each purchase to the Hern family.