"I'm not sure what the future holds, but I know the best is still ahead of me."
Jean Altomari and a group of friends were enjoying a terrific Caribbean cruise. They were on their way back to the ship from an onshore excursion in Cozumel, when their car collided with a vehicle that ran a stop sign. Everyone was seriously injured, and Jean, who sustained a spinal cord injury, had to be airlifted to Miami for surgery to stabilize her spine.
But the damage was already done: she was paralyzed. A Pennsylvania State Trooper, Jean admits that her training in law enforcement was easy compared with the rigors of rehabilitation.
"I love a challenge, but this was different. Every little thing seemed that much more difficult, more frustrating." But quitting was never an option.
"I don't give up easily and I've never taken anything for granted. You always have to work at it… believe in what you can do, not what you can't. When you have an injury like this, you have to grieve it. But then you need to do something good because of it." Jean worked tirelessly and had the support and encouragement of her treatment team at Kessler's Center for Spinal Cord Rehabilitation, family, friends and fellow troopers all along the way.
She returned home, resumed driving and, just seven months after the accident, returned to her position as a State Trooper on limited duty status. Now she has her sights set on the Paralympics, where she hopes to compete in the triathlon. Given her determination, anything is possible.
Learn more about Kessler's Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation Program.