Colleen has always loved cycling. Her father, an avid cyclist and cycling shop owner, imparted his love of the sport to his daughter. When, as a young child, she’d mastered “running around the house”, she naturally took to her first wheels. The wind catching her hair as she pedalled filled her heart and elated her soul: an instant and powerful connection between Colleen, her bike and the road was formed. She never looked back.
Colleen’s young adulthood was steeped in physical activity: running, swimming and other outdoor adventures never ceased to challenge and enthrall her. But cycling was always at the core of her athletics. She spent hours, daily, sinking her cycling roots into the long straightaways of Florida’s roads.
After reconnecting with her high school sweet heart, the couple dove into the exhilarating world of triathlons. Colleen’s physical conditioning would soon become pivotal in a new way: In 2009, she required brain surgery to fix a chiari malformation. She recovered well, and shortly thereafter, while basking in a demanding triathlon training schedule, her partner proposed.
An idyllic seashore wedding followed, and the duo embarked on a steady stream of training and triathlons, deepening their bond. The newlyweds relocated to Connecticut and blissfully began trying to start a family.
They were unaware of the horrific events about to unfold.
On October 8, 2011, cycling home from work, Colleen was run over by a multi-ton freightliner. It rolled over her and dragged her along the road. When medics arrived, they found the young woman completely mangled from the stomach down: a broken pelvis and a severely de-gloved abdomen, leg, hips, vaginal area, and behind. She flatlined within minutes of arriving at Yale Trauma Center.
Colleen received over 70 blood transfusions – including whole blood platelets and plasma – after her body was left so drained of blood her heart lacked anything to pump. Requiring full resuscitation twice, Colleen remained in a coma for over five weeks. She endured multiple surgeries and severe wound management as her broken body struggled to heal.
To date, Colleen has required over 24 surgeries to put her body back together. She lost her job. Her carefree sense of safety. Her dream of being a mother.
But she has been embraced by heroes: the bystander that ran into the road to stop traffic after she was run over. The emergency medics on scene. The countless medical professionals in the trauma bay. And even while she lay unaware, the nurses, aides, and doctors who cared for her so tenderly, every single day.
Colleen continues to heal and move further along in her recovery. There are many more surgeries in her future. But she is alive. She is thriving.
It’s nothing short of miraculous.
Colleen believes, at the heart of her remarkable comeback, is the inherent strength of the human spirit, the power of prayer, healthy food, exercise, proper rest, and a conscious, constant and expressed gratitude.
Still suffering from chronic pain and ongoing medical problems, Colleen works tirelessly, fundraising, marketing and advocating for blood donations, cycling safety and other causes she is passionate about. She continues to push herself as an athlete too: training and continuing to cross finish lines, giving her medals to her heroes, and serving as testament to the potential everyone has to persevere.