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Teacher rebounds from accident to run in Cowtown

Myranda Williams had friends beside her as she walked the Cowtown Half Marathon on Feb. 25.

She gets emotional thinking about how friends and fellow Aubrey educators Kristin Giddens and Juniper Wingert were with her that day, especially in light of everything that has happened to her in the last ninth months.

Williams, a fifth-grade math teacher at Aubrey Middle School, was critically injured in an accident while riding her bicycle last June in Monahans, located outside Odessa. A car hit her on June 10 and caused injuries that required her to be airlifted from the scene and taken to Medical Center Hospital in Odessa.

The injuries required several surgeries for Williams, an inveterate runner who has completed three marathons. The Cowtown Half Marathon was her fifth half marathon.

“To have friends that will walk 13 miles with you, because you have this crazy goal for yourself for wanting to do that …” she said, becoming emotional, adding that they were supportive all the way. Tears were shed at the end of the race.

“It’s very emotional, very heart-touching,” she said. “I couldn’t ask for better friends.”

Don’t walk in front of me, I may not follow.

Don’t walk behind me, I may not lead.

Walk beside me, Just be my friend.

– Albert Camus

Her friends said they enjoyed participating with Williams at Cowtown Half.

“It was an honor to walk with her and a day I’ll never forget,” Wingert said in an email. “She hadn’t gone more than 5 miles since her accident before she attempted this 1/2, so it was a huge feat! She never once whined or complained, and when I asked how she was she’d say, “I’m OK!” Williams “soaked it all up, was in great spirits and took the time to thank every police officer we passed for their service,” said Wingert, a kindergarten teacher at Monaco Elementary School. “That’s just who she is – selfless and grateful,” she said.

“When we approached the 13 mile marker, she began to break down emotionally. I felt nothing but pride for her the entire route, but at that moment I realized how important this was for her. As we rounded the corner, she mustered her last bit of energy and started running to the finish!

She is fighter through and through and an inspiration to all!” Giddens, a coach at the middle and high school, said Williams’ external scars have “nothing on her attitude, tenacity and love. I’m convinced that what she has endured will not define her but it will continue to reveal her character which defines her. “I believe that her progress is a testimony to God’s goodness and to her attitude and fierce love of life and people,” she said in an email.

“I am so unbelievably proud of this girl and I can’t wait to see how God will continue to work good through her life story.”

Williams was training for her first sprint triathlon when she was injured in Monahans. “We had the pilot car right behind us, and they said as long as you are able and capable, we’re going to let you finish, and we finished at 4 hours and 56 minutes, I think it was,” Williams said bout the Cowtown event. “I ran the last 100 yards over the finish line. I was like, I’m running this. It was awesome. It was amazing.

All sorts of emotions, just thinking of where I was 8½ months ago, in a coma, [with doctors] not knowing if they’re going to be able to save my arms and my legs to me doing a half marathon.” H e r r e h a b i l i t a t i o n caused her to miss most of this school year, but she returns to her class

in April. She was in town to see her students and inform the school she was coming back this year – her start date was April 23 – and was here also for her niece’s baptism. She eagerly embraces getting back to teaching her students and being with her colleagues.

“Aubrey is very close – it’s family,” she said. “And when you’ve been with people for five years, and all of a sudden you can’t be with them and you’re hours away and you still get your emails [about happenings] … it’s hard. I love teaching and I love my kids, and just not to be there with them has been hard for me.” Shelly Hough has been the long-term substitute, and Williams said Hough has done a great job filling in.

Williams lives with her mother in Monahans and rehabs in Odessa, a 45-minute commute, twice a week. “We’re really working on my right arm function,” she said. “When I had my nerve graft on my right arm in October, I couldn’t really move my fingers a whole lot on my right hand; it was just kind of a little twinge.

Now, I have what they call a half fist and I’m able to grab things with my thumb and pointer finger, pick things up. I can feed myself now, which is great not to have someone feed you all of your meals. I have been feeding myself since right before Christmas.” Williams, 34, said her therapists are “super excited” about her hand function. “I am almost six months post-surgery on my left arm and almost four months post-surgery on my right arm, and that’s the radial nerve grafts I had done,” she said.

“I am starting to see little signs.” She will see a nerve surgeon this month in San Antonio. That doctor will do a nerve study on her arms and compare it to the one he did in August before her surgeries. He wants to see what kind of nerve regeneration has occurred. “That appointment will answer a lot of questions as far as if I’m going to have any more surgeries, when I would have more surgeries,” she said. “When I saw him at Christmas, he kind of said, ‘You know, it will probably be another a year or so before I would do another surgery.’”

The accident injured Williams left leg and caused a partially collapsed lung and nine broken rigs, with five of those double fractured. Her legs are 100 percent now and the ribs have healed. The lung also healed. Occupational therapists are hopeful that she will get function of her hands, and her appointment this month will shed light on her wrist function, Williams said. She has had to have help in the months since her injury in managing self-care, including such routine tasks as cooking dinners and washing her hair. She considers herself temporarily disabled and is driven to get back to normal function of her arms and hands. “I have lived in sweatpants all winter because I can get them on and off by myself,” she said.

“I have bought all sorts of adaptive equipment for the kitchen. I have knobs for my steering wheel; I haven’t tried the knobs yet, but I have them just in case.” She just got a new car that has a push start for the ignition and push buttons for the transmission.

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