Janine Shepherd’s story reads like the plot of a Hollywood movie. A champion cross-country skier in training for the Winter Olympics, her life was irrevocably altered during a bike ride to the Blue Mountains when she was hit by a truck. Her neck and back were broken in four places, as were her right arm, collarbone, and five ribs. Her right leg had been ripped open, she had sustained massive internal injuries and severe lacerations to her abdominal area, and she had lost five liters of blood. The bleeding alone was enough to kill her. Doctors warned her parents that she was not expected to survive her ordeal. Even if by some small chance she recovered, she would never walk again.
Coming to terms with her shattered Olympic dreams, refusing to believe what expert medical staff were telling her about her chances of any kind of recovery, Janine focused every sinew of her being on healing her broken body and crushed morale. Her fighting spirit was rekindled watching small planes flying overhead. She said to herself, "If I can’t walk, I’ll fly." And fly she did. Within a year she had her private pilot’s license; 12 months later, her commercial license; soon after, her instructor’s permit and aerobatic endorsement. And all the while she pushed her body to mend itself, forced her legs to walk again, step by painful step.
Here is her story, a testament to the power of the human spirit, and one that will move and inspire all who read it.