Posted: Mar 4, 2013 6:13 PM by Alex Labat
Updated: Mar 4, 2013 6:32 PM
While riding her bike last fall, an unlicensed driver hit and paralyzed Monique Koll. You might recognize her and her boyfriend. Their picture and story went viral last week when he helped her cross the finish line at a half marathon in New Orleans. The accident left Koll bedridden and unable to even feed herself. Her boyfriend, Nic Zaunbrecher, moved in to help care for her and her 6-year-old son, and while the road to recovery has been long, Zaunbrecher has been there every step of the way.
"You hear that people are "so happy they're crying...and I feel this picture really captured that", says Nick Zaunbrecher. He and girlfriend Monique Koll never thought crossing the finish line at the Rock 'N' Roll Half Marathon in New Orleans would be possible.
Koll says, "Nobody knows when I'll be able to do things but I am in a walker now...unless I'm in a half-marathon. It would take too long with a walker. But yeah, I plan on running again".
It's been a tough recovery since last October for Koll. "I broke my neck. I have some scars or whatever, but I have a spinal cord injury to C7, and that affects my hands and my legs," says Koll.
Nick pushed Monique's wheelchair for thirteen miles. Marathon rules say you have to finish in under four hours. They easily beat that.
Koll says, "We were planning on three and a half hours, and I was going to use my walker to cross the finish line...but Mr. Overachiever here did it in two hours and forty minutes so we didn't know if the person who had my walker was going to be there yet."
That's when Zaunbrecher stood his girlfriend up, and helped her finish a race that started in a hospital bed.
"And that's when I start crying because how much effort did he have to go through to do all this for me."
"What I want people to get out of it is that you're strong. Everybody is strong. It's not about us, it's about what can happen. It's not that we did it. Anybody can do it," says Koll.