November 18, 2010
Earlier this semester, Oklahoma Baptist University Assistant Professor of KALS Gina Kraft and Director of Student Success Monica Mullins were struck by a pickup truck while cycling. Kraft sustained minor injuries while Mullins fought to recover from a serious spine injury. Mullins’ doctor predicted that Mullins would endure at least a 12-week recovery period before being able to ride again.
Kraft cycled again a few days after the incident.
“The Bison race was the upcoming Saturday so, I had to be comfortable enough to ride by the following Saturday,” said Kraft. “I rode horses while I was young and I learned early on that the longer you take to get back on a horse after you fall, the more difficult it becomes to ride again.”
Last week, only eight weeks after the accident, Mullins’ doctor cleared her to ride.
“Physically, my recovery is nothing short of miraculous,” said Mullins. “Many factors led to my rapid recovery.”
Mullins inability to ride during her recovery did not quell her passion she said.
“During my recovery I spent a lot of my time online, looking for gear,” said Mullins. “I even remember dreaming about bike parts.”
Mullins rode again for the first time in eight weeks last Tuesday with Gina and Nathan Kraft.
“I felt a really strong surge of energy just getting ready to go,” said Mullins. “I was even unable to sleep afterward because I had such a great ride.”
Mullins remained unaffected by some of the mental damage caused by her recovery until her excursion the next day.
“I rode with James Gonzalez, who was hit a year ago, and Gina but I had a much more difficult time mentally,” said Mullins.
Kraft and Mullins attributed the difficulty to a lack of lights.
“We like to ride after dark because we can put on lots of lights and know that we’re being seen, and we can see the headlights of cars that are coming toward us,” said Kraft.
Wednesday’s ride ended with Mullins declaring her intention to never ride again.
“I seriously felt like I didn’t want to get on a bike again after that day,” said Mullins.
Kraft said she knew that Mullins would eventually ride again.
“I knew that she [Mullins] believed what she was saying, but I knew that she would eventually ride again,” said Kraft. “What I was unsure of though, was what the process of getting back on the bike would be like.”
The next morning Mullins built up the resolve to commute to work.
“I felt like I needed to show Gina that I was not going to let yesterday stop me from doing the thing that I love,” said Mullins. “I did it for her, but in the process I realized that I was doing it just as much for myself.”
Mullins decided to send Kraft a text message to tell Kraft of her bicycle commute to work.
“In the message I told Gina that I commuted to work both for her and myself,” said Mullins.
“I told her that she’s my hero,” said Kraft.
Many believe that once a brace, a cast or a sling comes off, that a person has fully recovered from injury.
“People seem to think that just because she can ride, the difficult part is over,” said Kraft. “The reality is that one of the hardest parts of her recovery has just begun.”