Woman Paralyzed While Helping Stranger Determined to Walk Aisle at Wedding


A 22-year-old Pennsylvania nursing student who was paralyzed after being struck by a truck last winter is now determined to walk down the aisle at her upcoming wedding.

Alissa Boyle, a nursing student at Waynesburg University, was weeks away from graduating when on Feb. 20 she headed to Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown, W. Va. She and a few others stopped to assist 21-year-old Derek Hartzog, who had rolled his Jeep on Interstate 79.

Just as they managed to pull the man from the vehicle, they heard someone yelling that a truck was barreling down the road right at them.

"When I turned around, there was a semi right there and not stopping," Boyle told Western Pennsylvania ABC affiliate WTAE.

Boyle, fellow nursing student Cami Abernethy and Hartzog were forced to leap over the railing over the edge of the overpass, which was 40 or 50 feet above the ground. Boyle was the most seriously injured of the three.

"When I did wake up, I just remember being in pain. I remember just being in pain, and it was the worst pain in my life," Boyle said. "They told me I'd never walk again. The doctor told me right away that I had a 1 percent chance of walking," she said.

As she began her lengthy recovery in western Pennsylvania after the accident, Boyle's thoughts turned to her upcoming wedding to Nathan, who was stationed at Fort Bragg in North Carolina, and had just proposed to her.

"At first, when it happened, I was worried that he was going to leave, and he never left my bedside. He told me, 'You're not going to walk. You're going to run again,'" said Boyle.

A second look showed doctor's that Boyle's spinal cord was not completely severed, as the first doctor had told her. Suddenly she had hope that Nathan was right, and she would be able to walk.

A sense of determination now brings Boyle to physical therapy, and she is resolute in her decision to be able to walk down the aisle at her upcoming wedding at the Avion on the Water in Canfield, Ohio. She says she's out to prove wrong the doctor who said she had a slim chance to walk again.

Boyle now works out her legs on a sit-down stationary bike, and with the support of her friends and family - and a charity called Jamie's Dream Team, who offer help to individuals who are handicapped, disabled or terminally ill - she is preparing for her big day.

"Her wedding day when she walks down the aisle is going to be an amazing experience for everyone," Jamie Holmes of Jamie's Dream Team said.

Holmes and her team are rounding up vendors across the community to make donations, including Mike Jeswald of Avion on the Water.

"Everybody has to give back to the community, and this is such a great opportunity," he said.

Boyle says that her wedding will have a Cinderella theme, complete with a horse-drawn carriage. She says that she hopes her story will inspire others.

"I think to be an inspiration; I think God wanted me to be on here to show people that you can do anything. Nothing's impossible," she said.