Luck of the Irish - Injured athletes overcome obstacles to participate in Madison Exchange Club race
Ashton Edwards, Special to the Times
MADISON - This year’s Leprechaun Race Day was a
phenomenal success from every angle. Most number of registrants, most runners ever,
and just like in Ireland itself, the day after St. Patrick’s Day went from a
fogbank hovering over the shoreline to a bright warm spring afternoon.
lovely lasses steal the show
But what made this year’s race stand out was the story of two vivacious
lassies, shoreline residents who’ve endured very similar midlife setbacks. And,
thanks to their guts, commitment to life, and adroit handling by the medical
profession, both are emerging, recovering, physically adapting, and mentally
dedicated to a positive outlook for the remainder of their lives.
Amidst their separate comeback trails, they arrived race day on Sunday morning
at the Surf Club in Madison to complete Madison Exchange Club’s 20th Annual
Leprechaun 2 Mile Walk. And walk they did, together…Erin Spaulding (from
Branford) brandishing a cane wrapped in green ribbon (a pseudo-shillelagh),
Colleen Kelly Alexander (from Clinton) using a walker.
They’ve got heart
This story would be totally amazing just if either Lass were able to stand at
the starting line let alone complete the 2-mile jaunt along the shores of Long
Erin Spaulding has been recovering for two years from severe shoulder, neck and
head injuries suffered when a large and very heavy wall cabinet fell on her. A
tri-athlete who lives with her husband and three children in Branford, Erin is
constantly undergoing cognitive and physical therapy as well as visits to a
variety of specialist to assist her with recurring balance issues.
Colleen’s accident occurred this past October when she was run over by a
delivery truck at the intersection of the Boston Post Road and Neck Road. She
attributes just being alive today to the speedy and thorough assistance she
received from neighbors and the Madison Ambulance EMT’s at the scene, and the
Yale New Haven Hospital vigilance and care during her 40 days suffering in a
coma. Colleen, also a tri-athlete who resides in Clinton, still has “hills to
climb” as she just recently underwent her 12th surgery since the accident.
A mutual friend of Erin and Colleen deserves the credit for bringing these two
incredible ladies together. Now Erin and
Colleen do know one another….their lives are blended with upbeat attitudes and
positive lifestyles, all of which is dedicated to being able to overcome their
individual physical and mental obstacles.
“The day Erin and I met was
a miracle for both of us...bittersweet, but giving new life to us both,” says
Somewhere between six months and 2 years ago, Colleen and Erin were really suffering;
Colleen was told she might never walk again let alone live, and Erin was over a
year in therapy. Today, they’ve climbed out of desperate days to entering the
final stages of healing inside and out. Each
is pledged to giving joy to life because “they firmly believe they made it
through their dilemmas for a reason.”
Says Erin: “My accident and the two years of cognitive and physical therapy
that have followed were life-altering (not threatening) in every respect of my
life - as a parent, athlete and individual.”
What an entirely great new ending to
what once was just a race…..