Andrea Vellinga was all smiles over the weekend as she celebrated not only her birthday, but great progress since the tragedy that killed seven people in her home state of Indiana.
Vellinga, 31, suffered severe brain trauma after the main stage at the Indiana State Fair collapsed on her and dozens of others last August. Vellinga was left with a crushed skull, collapsed lung and broken vertabrae.
Saturday, residents of Pendleton, Ind., attended a 5K to honor her and the miraculous recovery she's made. Nine months after the accident, she's not only walking -- but she also ran in the marathon event.
The city orchestrated the fundraiser.
"I was happy to jog again because that was the old me. I always used to be the runner," she said.
"She has always been a fighter and a go-getter," former college roommate Trisha Rosenbeck added. "This doesn't surprise me at all and the progress she made from the beginning till now is unbelievable."
Organizers only expected 400 participants to turn out for the event, but attendance was nearly double that.
"Andrea, the heart she had to do what she's done and come back from what she experienced, I mean why not [participate]," local resident Roger Roberts said. "I can have a little heart to come out here and do this. This is nothing compared to what she's done."