Jaycee Dugard and Other Amazing Survivors of the Past Year

The victim has a large, deeply religious family and they have been able to lean on their church and their pastor for support, the lieutenant said.

In November, the family released a statement that tried to ease the anger at those who were involved in the attack.

"Violence is always a wrong choice," the family's statement said in part. "We realize people are angry about this, but let the anger cause change; change that is necessary to keep our children, our neighbors and our friends safe. We thank everyone for their love, support and ongoing prayers."

While the attack revealed the dark side of humanity, it also unleashed peoples' tender side.

"Right behind the callousness and disregard for humankind that this crime shows, right behind that is the generosity of the human spirit…We have been literally inundated with support for her," said Gagan.

The police department received tens of thousands of packages and letters for the girl. A confidential party has offered to pay for her college education, and numerous people have come forward to make sure she will receive free therapy and counseling. The victim's church, First Presbyterian in Richmond has set up a fund called "Victory over Violence" to handle all of the offers.

CONNIE CULP

The woman who received the first face transplant surgery in the United States revealed herself earlier this year as Connie Culp. Culp received a new face in December 2008, but didn't step out of the shadows of anonymity until May.

The road to recovery has been a long one for the 46-year-old mother from Ohio. It's been almost five years since her husband took a shotgun, aimed it at her face and pulled the trigger, blasting a hole in Culp's nose, cheeks and the roof of her mouth.

She barely survived the attack and then for years afterward Culp endured strangers gaping at her disfigurement. Culp told her doctors that one little girl even referred to her as a monster.

But a year ago, at the Cleveland Clinic, Culp became the recipient of the nation's first face transplant, undergoing a 22-hour operation where a team of doctors replaced 80 percent of her face. This year Culp is spending the holidays at home with her family.


Connie Culp

"She is doing fine. She had a great Christmas," said Dr. Maria Siemionow, the lead transplant surgeon. "She is leading a regular life, walking a dog, doing some grocery shopping, and visiting with friends."

These kinds of simple tasks would have been unthinkable for Culp just months ago. "She now has the return of sensation over her entire face…the function of smiling and frowning this is also improving, so we are pretty pleased," said Siemionow.

Doctors at the Cleveland Clinic have no doubt that Culp's determination has had a hand in the success of her treatment.

"She is a very strong and motivated candidate and we are learning for the future that will be important," said Siemionow.

Sometime in the first few months of next year, Culp will return for more surgery at the Cleveland Clinic to remove some of the excess skin from her face. And she will continue the daily exercises that are helping restore function to her facial muscles.

According to Siemionow, Culp has also already made a New Year's Resolution of sorts. "With the coming year, her mission is to go public more and talk about how important this surgery is for her and how it may also change the lives of others," the doctor said.

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