Overcoming Shattered Dreams: Jill’s Journey from Track Star to Leg Crushing Car Accident and Back
BUDDING TRACK STAR
After moving to a new high school in The Woodlands, Texas my freshman year, I decided to join the track team. I tried out for all sprints and quickly my coaches and I realized that this was my thing. I ran varsity as a freshman and continued the rest of my high school career, anchoring all three relays in every meet: the 100m, 200m and mile relay, and ran the open 100m and 200m dash. I continued successfully winning district championships and placing in Regionals and was on my way to pursuing a track career in college.
Then… I broke my legs.
It was the night of the Homecoming dance my senior year, and 6 friends and I were headed to the dance from dinner. Suddenly, the guy who was driving ran through a stop sign and smashed into a telephone pole on my side of the car.
I never lost consciousness, and I remember it all very well in detail. I looked down and saw that my right leg was completely broken — a compound fracture where I broke my tibia in half and the bone was sticking out of my leg. My left ankle was shattered, my right hand (which I had used to brace myself and protect my face from hitting the dash) was broken, and I had knocked out a tooth where my face hit the dashboard. I was the only one in the car that was hurt.
I remember lying there on the table in the hospital after it happened and asking the doctors “when can I run again?” but they continued to say “we don’t know.” They reassured me that I would be fine, but said they weren’t sure if I would be able to run again.
Needless to say, due to my injuries I could not run my senior year in high school and my chances for running in college were ruined.
RECOVERY THROUGH HARD WORK
This changed everything for me, but I stayed positive and never gave up. The hope of being able to run and snow ski again helped me push through months of physical therapy and 3 surgeries over a year and a half as I transitioned into college. After hard work and determination, I was walking again, my leg was healing correctly after being reconstructed and the bone straightened, and I was feeling more sturdy and less timid with putting strain on my legs.
Eventually I was back to normal and doing all the activities I loved again — skiing, running, dancing, hiking, and exercising. I started running again about two and a half years after my third surgery, and I continued to run at the track for fun, but never again competitively.
WHAT I LEARNED…
I learned some tough life lessons, and that accident helped make me the person I am today. It has given me the positive and hopeful outlook that I have on life.
It made me realize that life can change in a moment, and you have to make the best of what you have now and count your blessings. You also can not sit around and wait for life to be perfect, you must make a choice to live the life you want, despite some hard work and perseverance. You can never let anything get you too far down and you must always have faith.
Sometimes in life we are thrown a curve ball, (well, many times) and we can’t just sit around and wait for things to get better. You have to change your attitude, make choices, and figure it out. In most cases it turns out to be a blessing!
I still love the sport of track and am so thrilled that my oldest daughter is following in my footsteps and that I’m now leading others in track workouts. Track excites me and it is an incredible way to stay fit!
“Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning how to dance in the rain!”
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