Overcoming the odds

By By Stephanie Snoy

By Stephanie Snoy

Tammy Nicholson, junior in exercise and sports science, was ejected 20 feet from her vehicle in a rollover car accident in the fall of 2004. She broke her nose and rib, bruised a lung, fractured her pelvis, tore her ACL, injured both knees, separated her shoulder and suffered traumatic brain injury.

Unconscious, she was life-flighted to an emergency room. Doctors told her parents that if she lived, she would likely be paralyzed and never walk again.

Two years later, she is dancing and running marathons.

Nicholson, a dancer for more than 16 years, was a member of the Crimson Line Dance team before the accident.

Her injuries made it difficult for her to attend practice and support her teammates.

“You don’t realize how lucky you are until it is taken from you. I have learned to not take things for granted,” she said.

Nicholson teammates visited her to help keep her motivated during the recovery process.

“Although it was hard, the support of the girls kept me driven to dance again,” she said.

The coach held her position, and almost a year later, she rejoined the team. Now entering her third year, Nicholson has been selected team president for the 2006-2007 season.

“Tammy is an inspiration to us all. She will be a great and motivational leader for the team next year,” said former team member Nikki Pituckle, a nursing student at the U.

One year after her accident, Nicholson completed the St. George Marathon, and this summer she finished the Salt Lake City Marathon in four hours, 26 minutes-her third marathon since the accident.

At the time of the accident, doctors told her parents she would be mentally handicapped because of the brain injuries and that she would have a hard time in school, if she even returned.

“Since the accident, one of my biggest accomplishments is getting through physics with calculus,” Nicholson said.

She has managed to take difficult classes and maintain a 3.7 GPA. After she gets her bachelor’s degree in exercise and sports science, Tammy plans on attending graduate school for physical therapy.

“She has always been a very physical, competitive, highly-motivated individual. These traits helped her survive this terrible accident, got her back doing what she loves and reaching her goals,” said Nicholson’s mother, Peggy Nicholson.

Nicholson said she hopes to use her experiences and the lessons she’s learned to inspire others with their recovery in physical therapy.

Lisa Teran

Tammy Nicholson, second from left, prepares with her teammates for the 24th of July Celebration Concert. Nicholson was thrown 20 feet from her car on I-15 near Fillmore Oct. 10, 2004. She suffered multiple injures but has no memory of the accident itself.