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Community goes the extra mile for runner (w/video)

By Elena Watts
June 28, 2014 at 1:28 a.m.
Updated June 29, 2014 at 1:29 a.m.

Susan Dorsett, 39, of Victoria, laughs with a friend during the Light Up the Night for Susie 5K run at Riverside Park. After being hit by a car, Dorsett made the difficult decision to have her leg amputated. Dorsett said that her friends and family have been incredibly supportive during her recovery. The run Saturday was to benefit  Dorsett  and her family.

Susan Dorsett, an avid runner and emergency room nurse, is not sure she can run again. Her focus now is on relearning to walk.

The 39-year-old was struck by a car as she stood at the front door of her home in February, and doctors were forced to amputate her left leg at mid-shin.

"I think, 'Oh gosh, I wish I had my life back,' but I'm glad to be here because she (the driver) could have killed me," Dorsett said.

More than 150 friends and family members gathered Saturday evening at Riverside Park for the Light Up the Night for Susie 5K fundraiser.

"What better way to give back to a runner than with a 5K run?" asked Renee Noonan, Dorsett's friend, fellow runner and physical therapist assistant.

Doctors performed skin grafts from the amputation site to Dorsett's mid-thigh. Additional surgeries to revise the grafts are still expected, and the damage also prevents her knee from bending much.

"It was pinched in the door, and my leg exploded," Dorsett said. "They tried to sew the skin back down, but it died."

Nobody deserves what she has endured, Noonan said. Dorsett is also dealing with medical and legal expenses, construction costs to rebuild her home and her inability to work and earn income.

"She is already the strongest woman I know, and now, she is faced with this," Noonan said. "She has lost so much but not her sense of humor."

Dorsett has learned to allow more time for dressing, showering and climbing and descending the stairs. She needs assistance on her once-quick trips to H-E-B. Someone pushes the cart as she rolls along in her wheelchair.

Noonan and Dorsett became acquainted through membership in a local running club. Dorsett has completed marathons in Las Vegas and New York, numerous half-marathons, a triathlon, a Tough Mudder obstacle course and many 5K and 10K races. She has also run in New Orleans, Chicago and Green Bay, among other locations.

Philip Garza, director of DeTar Health Center, said he helped organize the run to honor Dorsett's passion for running.

"No matter what the circumstances, I know she's going to come out of this strong," Garza said. "She's such a positive person."

Dorsett is waiting for her insurance company to approve a prosthetic leg. Doctors do not know whether she will be able to run again.

"I have good days and bad," Dorsett said. "My friends have been really supportive, and I appreciate everything they have done for me."

A 40-year-old former VISD teacher was indicted on felony charges of aggravated assault and tampering with a witness in connection with the crash that injured Dorsett. The case is pending.

"As an ER nurse, Dorsett has saved many, many lives and supported the community," Noonan said. "It's time to give back to her."



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