Connecticut athlete who defied odds to speak at July Achilles Connecticut events
On race courses, Colleen Kelly Alexander prefers to blend in with the other athletes who are giving it their all. Her backstory is an extraordinary one – an athlete who, by all logic, should have died in a horrific accident on a road in Madison, CT. These days, Alexander gives back in a multitude of ways, including penning her inspirational book, Gratitude In Motion: A True Story of Hope, Determination, and the Everyday Heroes Around Us.
On October 8, 2011, Colleen was struck by a truck that ran through a stop sign. Run over by both the vehicle’s front and back wheels, from which she sustained serious organ damage, Colleen should have slipped out of consciousness. Instead, she fought. Having previously served as a medic, she said in an interview, “I knew that if I was unconscious, my chances of survival were much less.”
She also noted that a “hero” on the scene called 911 and spread his arms out to protect her from getting run over again. “I am alive because countless people circled my body and gave me cardiopulmonary resuscitations. I needed 80 units of blood.”
Honoring Everyday Heroes
Colleen was in a coma for more than five weeks following the accident. She flatlined twice, and required 30 surgeries. Recovery was painful, involving physical therapy and wound care that first allowed her to use a walker, and then creep up to unassisted walking.
But the prizes she aimed for were her loves: running, biking and swimming. Also, giving back, in appreciation of the “village” that had helped her at the scene of the accident, in the hospital, and during recovery. “I realized we’re all a human family, we’re all brothers and sisters,” she said. “I started to understand the magnitude of how strong I can be, because we’re all in this together.”
In 2013, with the assistance of Achilles International, a nonprofit running club that helps disabled individuals participate in mainstream sports, Colleen competed in races – including her first half-Ironman since the accident, and the New York City Half Marathon. Today, she’s a regular on the race circuit, but gives away her medals in honor of “the everyday heroes around us.”
On Saturday, July 21, Colleen will tell her story at a 5:30 PM book signing event, to be held in the Windsor Room at the Hartford/Windsor Marriott, 28 Day Hill Rd, Windsor, CT. RSVP here.
On Sunday, July 22, Colleen will be the honoree at the Achilles CT Hope & Possibility ® 5K/10K / fitness walk /kids run presented by Cigna, to be held at the Metropolitan Learning Center, 1551 Blue Hills Avenue, Bloomfield, CT. Register here.