Terri Dellamaria, center, with friend Joy, left, and husband Tony after a 40-mile ride on her birthday in 2008, one year after the accident.
Dellamaria shows students what happened
to her bicycle when she was hit.
More Than Just a Trail
In December, we asked you to tell us what supporting Rails-to-Trails Conservancy means to you:
Terri Dellamaria — Elkhorn, Wis.
I have become a great supporter of the rail-trail movement. Two years ago, I was almost killed by a 17-year-old automobile driver who was paying attention to his music selection and not his driving while traveling at least 50 miles per hour in my direction. He did not see me, on the "side" of the road, and hit me while I was road biking. I was thrown 62 feet. Though the driver did not stop at first, two amazing eye-witnesses did, and a fabulous rescue team, including the "flight for life" crew and a great trauma team at Froederdt Hospital in Milwaukee, took great care of me. Wearing a helmet saved my life.
I am now "recovered," with a left leg that was put back together with a titanium rod and screws. My ribs, back and head trauma have healed completely.
I am back to biking and loving it! As you can probably imagine, I am somewhat hesitant about road biking, but I still absolutely love to do it even as I'm not sure it is worth the risk. I have two young boys who I also love to share bicycling with, and rail-trails provide a perfect opportunity for family cycling.
After I got hit and was significantly recovered, I did a lot of work with the police department. They asked me to share my story with all of the public school children in Kindergarten through 5th grades in the Elkhorn Area School District. I talked with the children about the importance of bike safety and wearing their helmets. I showed them my "broken" bike that was hit, and my helmet that saved my life. I also had a pink rope cut at 62 feet to illustrate the distance I was thrown when the vehicle hit me. It's really quite amazing when you literally see the distance.
The kids all responded so favorably. Many of them know me as their substitute school teacher, and it was truly amazing to have them come up after I spoke and say they were glad I was okay. I felt like there had to be a reason that I was injured, and if it was to convey the message to others to wear a helmet, then I thought this was my opportunity. It went really well.
I typically ride the White River State Trail from Elkhorn to Burlington, Wis., several times a week. I ride the whole thing, 23 miles at a time. I just love it! I have also ridden the Glacial Drumlin State Trail, and it is so beautiful, too. I am excited to explore different trails throughout the United States. They will be vacation destinations for my family as soon as my 11-year-old builds up a little more endurance!
James Gahan — Houston, Texas
I was diagnosed wth terminal mesothelioma, which I contracted in the military from asbestos, and given nine months to live back in May of 2009. I enjoy reading the stories and seeing the trails open up. It gives me hope of being able to ride on a rail-trail. Right now, I am 100 percent disabled, but I do have a bicycle which I ride sometimes. I'm not able to ride very far due to my lung capacity, but I want to enjoy the life I have left. Thank you for rail-trails.
Dave Turner — Los Angeles, Calif.
There are only about three institutions that I contribute to, because they do good things for most people and don't ask much for themselves. Your organization brings life and outdoor experiences to everyone at no cost other than to get there and enjoy the fresh air, surroundings they have not seen before, and even things and wildlife they did not know existed in their own backyards. I have been on many of rail-trails all over the country and always enjoyed them and learned something new. Thank you for that. Please continue to bring us back to our routes (pun intended).