Standing Out by Trying to Fit In

THE FIRST DAY OF SUMMER VACATION

Leslie as adult

“Accept what you can’t change and change what you can’t accept,” as the saying goes. When that change happens to a six-year-old girl, you accept it with the naivety that only comes with the innocence of childhood. My story begins on May 28, 1975, in the small town of New Ulm, Minnesota. Although I was born nearly seven years to the day earlier, that is the day I say my life began.

It was the first day of summer vacation after first grade. All of the neighborhood kids were outside playing at each other’s houses and running through each home as if it were our own. I was at my best friend Marnie’s house, and after a few hours of playing with our Barbie dolls, I decided to go home to get more toys. I remember looking down the driveway and then looking both ways before crossing the street. But I never made it home that day; I was struck and run over by a dump truck hauling gravel.

Leslie as child

What happened after that I’ve been able to gather from others who were there, since I, fortunately, do not remember anything that happened after I left the driveway until well after the accident.

Within moments, my friend’s dad ran to me in the street and covered my legs with a blue doll blanket. My brother, who had been playing down the street, rode his bike to our house, ran inside, and screamed, “Some dumb truck just ran over Leslie.” My mom, who was hosting a fundraiser planning committee, ran barefoot down the street after hearing my brother’s shout.

Within minutes, she was at my side. Finding me surrounded by our friends and neighbors, she sat next to me encouraging me to sing “Jesus Loves Me” while trying to keep me awake.

The first responders were two police officers, one of whom placed a tourniquet around my left leg. I was taken with my mother by ambulance to the local hospital only to be turned away because it was not a trauma center. We were driven to the hospital at the next biggest town, nearly 30 miles away, and were turned away for the same reason. The driver was instructed to take me to Rochester or to Minneapolis, but was advised that I would not survive if he chose the latter. My mom kept me singing the entire way.

Within moments of arriving, I was prepped for surgery and had my left leg amputated above the knee.

...to read the rest of this incredible story go here

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