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Victim of devastating crash beats odds to run in 2019 Detroit Marathon

Amanda Jaczkowski has been on the road to recovery for two years and is getting ready to hit a major milestone.

Jaczkowski overcame a serious injury where she almost lost one of her legs, but it didn't stop her from setting some big goals. 

She said she remembers the incident vividly. Jaczkowski said she left her Hamtramck home for work a little earlier than usual.

"I remember that morning because it was a beautiful day," Jaczkowski said. "I was riding my bike toward Downtown Detroit. I was on Third Street."

Jaczkowski was riding in the bike lane when she got into a collision with a gravel hauler.

"I was in a lot of pain," she said. "I was screaming."

She was rushed to a hospital for treatment.

"I remember it was kind of like in the movies and the TV shows where they're rolling someone into the ER and there's that fuzzy light happening above their head," Jaczkowski recalled. "That's totally what it was. Then there was a lot of the noise. There was a lot of yelling." 

Her situation was critical. She broke 17 bones and her left leg was in bad shape. 

"They didn't know if my leg was going to stay attached to my body," Jaczkowski said. "There was a lot of skin missing. There was a lot of tissue dying. There was a lot of muscles that were detached. There was bones that were shattered."

She spent three months in the hospital, underwent 22 surgeries and a year of physical therapy at the Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan.

"They did warn me a couple times that, you know, 'You still have your leg, but there's no guarantees,'" Jaczkowski said. "It was two months later, and they were still saying, 'Well, you're at like 70 percent that you're going to keep it.'"

Despite still missing a hamstring in her left leg, Jaczkowski makes it through four physical therapy sessions each week.  

"She couldn't really bend her knee very good," said Linda McKinney, senior physical therapist in the outpatient neurological department at the Rehab Institute of Michigan. "Her ankle was very unstable and didn't have full motion -- which you need to just walk, to try to do stairs, or anything. It's pretty miraculous that she can do what she does."

Jaczkowski made it a goal to run the 2019 Detroit Free Press-TCF Bank Half Marathon.

"There are a lot couch potatoes out there, and they just need to take that one step and set the goals that Amanda has set," said Barbara Bennage, the executive race director for the Detroit Free Press-TCF Bank Marathon.

Beating the odds and overcoming adversity one step at a time, Jaczkowski is hoping her journey inspires others. 

"I tend to make just the best of situations and don't ask many questions and just see how far we can push it," Jaczkowski said.

More than 25,000 runners are expected to participate in the marathon. The Detroit Free Press-TCF Bank Marathon typically takes place the third Sunday in October.

The final registration deadline is Monday.

For more information or to register for the marathon, visit the official Detroit Free Press-TCF Bank Marathon website here.