Montgomery Catholic teacher hit by truck to run in NYC Marathon
MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - A Montgomery Catholic teacher is headed to New York City to compete in the largest marathon in the world.
But a horrific accident almost derailed her dream and left her fighting to walk again.
Lori Riggles has come a long way in the months since the crash that left her in intensive care.
The dedicated and beloved sixth grade teacher at Holy Spirit Elementary School was hit by Ford F250 back in April.
We spoke to her family after the incident when Riggles was on a ventilator, sedated and awaiting surgeries at Baptist Medical Center South.
"She was struck by a pickup truck head on," said her sister, Melissa Macchia.
Relatives remained at her bedside in the hospital.
Riggles was only several hundred yards from her home on Smiley Ferry Road in Ramer when the accident occurred.
The lifelong runner started to compete two years ago, taking part in half marathons and 5K's. She was thrilled to be accepted into the New York City marathon, her first full marathon. She was training for the race when she was hit by the truck.
She suffered multiple fractures to her pelvis, vertebrae and wrist and extensive damage to her arm from the impact. She was also left with a massive head wound.
"I had several fractures. Parts of my back were broken and I had pelvis reconstructive surgery. I also had various fractures throughout the right side of my body," she said.
After time spent in the hospital, she went to a rehabilitation facility and underwent physical therapy, cognitive therapy and occupational therapy. Once she was released from rehab, therapy continued at her home throughout the summer.
"I had to relearn everything physically," Riggles, a mother of three, said.
Her recovery has been a long process. She describes it as "painful, but joyful" because she is grateful to be alive.
"On June 1 I was allowed to leave my wheelchair and walk for the first time. After learning to walk, I progressed to running. I have trained and ran since then," she said.
Throughout the challenging process, her determination to cross the finish line kept her motivated.
"It was my goal before the accident and when I walked for the first time, it remained my goal. So I progressed as I could to recover so that I could accomplish my goal," she said.
Riggles' other passion is teaching. She been an educator in the Montgomery Catholic Preparatory School for 25 years and her students and coworkers will be cheering her on from Alabama as she runs in the marathon. Family members are traveling with her to New York City to be her cheerleaders as she heads to the finish line.
She offered inspiring words for others recovering from accidents or illnesses, saying three things helped her heal and grow stronger: prayer, perseverance and work ethic.
"Many times it was tempting to give up on the different types of physical obstacles that I was moving through, but I felt if I pushed through those and saw them as something to overcome, it would be beneficial in my recovery,' Riggles added. "Giving the physical aspects of my recovery my best effort, I felt, was important. I appreciate how far I've come."
The community rallied around Riggles and her family after the accident, offering support, assistance, well wishes and kind words. Riggles says that is what has meant the most to her during her ordeal.
An online account set up by her son, Trey, has raised nearly $12,400 to help with her medical expenses.
"Without those prayers and positive thoughts and support, I do not feel like I would have recovered as well as I did," Riggles said.
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