Despite being seriously injured after she was run over by an SUV, Greenport High School graduate Katherine Johnson not only survived, but she came home from the rehabilitation center two weeks ago — and is headed back to school at the end of the month.
And now, Katie wants to thank the community who rallied to support her, helping with donations and coming together to give her strength in her darkest hour."I'm so lucky to stem from such a small, supportive community where everyone cares so much about each other," Katie said Wednesday.
"Everyone really came together through all of this, and I can't imagine how much more difficult the struggle would have been without the help. My family has been here with me from the beginning, and without them I surely wouldn't be where I am now."
Her parents drove to see her every day after working long hours, she said, even though they were tired.
"My mom would bring dinner, too, so I wouldn't be stuck with hospital food for at least one meal of the day. And my big brother, who has a busy job, a wife, two young kids, and a whole bunch of responsibilities, would come see me almost every day. Having that support, and knowing that they took time away from their busy lives just to help me through this crisis and put a smile on my face means so much to me."
In a post on her Facebook page, Katie said she is ready to face life agin.
"Everything that I've been through has only made me tougher, and every scar I've collected has only proved that I've always been stronger than whatever's tried to kill me," she wrote.
Greenport resident Garrett Moore, the butcher at the Southold IGA, was devastated on May 17 when he got a text just after midnight that his stepdaughter had been badly hurt.
The details were grim: Katie, 20, Moore said, had been running across the street with two friends in Pennsylvania, where she was studying makeup design, when she tripped and fell and was hit by an SUV.
But a caring community came together to help: Faced with red tape and uncertainty over what expenses would be covered by insurance or Medicaid and mounting medical bills, the family faced challenges.
Friends and co-workers at IGA set up collection jars for the family at both the store's locations while the Moores were in the hospital with Katie; a fundraiser was organized.
The outpouring of love from the community has warmed their hearts, Moore said. "I feel like I'm on 'Little House on the Prairie' and Michael Landon is directing. All you do is walk around with tissues."
Others have held bake sales to help raise funds.
"I still have a long, bumpy road ahead, filled with healing and recovery, but through it all, and with the help and love from my amazing support system of family and friends, I persevered, and will continue to do so. Broken bones and torn skin mend, as do a shattered and tired mind and soul, but I'm so incredibly lucky that I'm still here, and that I was able to celebrate another birthday, and spend much needed time with my loved ones," Katie wrote.
"I'm able to walk and talk again, I'm able to live at home and take care of myself, and in a few short weeks, I'll be able to go back to school after only missing a single semester during my recovery, and reunite with everyone who was there for me from the very beginning. Most of you have suffered through this hardship with me, and I'm sure that you've wondered why this happened, and I've wondered about it a lot myself. But everything happens for a reason, and even though the reasons might not yet be clear, everything is okay, and that's all that matters."
As she heads off to school, Katie added, "I'm ready to continue my life now. I'm ready to go on adventures. I'm ready to explore every possibility that this world has in store for me, because even though it's put me through a lot of negative, it's also shown me a lot of positive. I'm ready to live, and I'm ready to forgive everything that put me in this situation. If anything, this experience has taught me to never give up, and I never will."