(Continued from May 11 issue; read Part I on monsey.com by going to: http://monsey.com/the-eighteen-wheeler-the-two-wheeler-and-chai-lifelines-tour-de-simcha/)
Leora’s frantic mother called in the nurse as her daughter waited with bated breath. How had so simple a surgery as the removal of an appendix gone so wrong, as the incision on the wrong side of her body was clearly indicating? Mother and daughter calmed down after the nurse explained that the laparoscopic surgery was done at an angle through the opposite side. So her appendix on the right side had indeed been removed, though the incision had been made on the left side.
“When the doctor or nurse would come into the room to check on me,” Leora recalls, “they would see my cast for my broken ankle and automatically go right for my ankle to check it. I would have to say, ‘No, no, wrong place. It’s my appendix.’”
Four months later, Leora was still scared to put any weight on her foot. “I just wanted to protect my ankle more, not less, even though they had taken off the cast and given me a walking boot. I wasn’t going to put any pressure on my foot if I could help it. I was too protective of it.”
“You need a goal,” Leora’s infinitely wise mother said to the daughter who could still barely maneuver around the house.
“I know if you have a goal nothing will stop you.”
And so, the Miami Marathon attended by 25,000 people, which was taking place in just two months’ time, became Leora’s goal.
The fact that the doctor actually sneered at the idea of Leora accomplishing her goal served only as a further impetus to succeed.
“Technically, there is no reason you can’t run with that ankle,” the doctor said when asked, “but I don’t see how it’s possible for you to be able to run a marathon in two months, given how you won’t even walk, let alone run, on that foot.”
“He doesn’t know who you are, Leora,” her mother told her after the visit, knowing full well that once her daughter put her mind to something, she would push herself beyond her limits to succeed.
And true to form, Leora took off her protective boot and pushed herself hard at physical therapy that day, and every day after, until she found herself two months later at the Miami Marathon running for Chai Lifeline. Not only was she running for Chai Lifeline, but she was running while pushing the wheelchair carrying the friend she had represented in the Tour De Simcha. The half marathon took them over three hours. It was windy, raining and chilly for much of the 13.1 miles, not the ideal balmy weather one looks forward to in Florida.
“We’re doing this together, even if I have to crawl to the finish line,” Leora told her friend. No one had to crawl, though, and the two girls finished the last mile running hand in hand, side by side. The pair crossed the finish line with boundless euphoria, falling into each other’s arms, hugging, screaming and crying.
“It brought me such closure,” Leora said. “I don’t believe in fear stopping me.”
And that is why, just last week, Leora was back on a bike for the first time since her accident. Nothing in my life is stopping me anymore,” Leora said. “I was really scared when I got on that new bike for the first time after the accident, but then it was like it all fell into place.”
“I remember when I came to in a daze in the middle of the road in so much pain,” Leora says. “I knew I should have been road kill. ‘Why are you alive, miss?’ police officers were asking me with true wonder. I didn’t know the answer, but I do know that I was given a second chance, and it must be because I have some important things still to finish here.”
And that is why Leora is starting with what’s important to her—she’s riding in the 2017 Tour De Simcha along with twenty-three other women from Monsey. “I want to do it for the kids,” Leora says. “When I got hurt, I really appreciated all the support I got from Chai Lifeline. They were there for me all the way, showing me support and love, and I knew I was not going to die. But those kids, they don’t know if they are going to live another day. I can’t imagine what that is like. But now I can imagine what the kind of support Chai Lifeline offers means to them because I experienced it firsthand, and so it means everything to me now too.”
To support “Leora’s” ride this year, go to https://www.tourdesimcha.org/Donate, pick “general donation” and make sure to show Leora your support by writing in the honor scroll box: I also don’t believe in fear stopping anyone. They’ll know Leora sent you.
M.C. Millman is the editor of monsey.com as well as a prolific writer, author of 41 novels, and contributor to countless publications.
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