When people hear stories about runners getting hit by cars, trucks, and buses, it usually ends with a causality or multiple casualties. But for the University of North Florida distance runner that's not the case. It was February 4th, and Manny Velasquez had just finished in 3rd place in the mile at the Camel City Invite in Winston Salem at the JDL Indoor Track, when he went to get his cool down in.
Unfortunately for Manny he didn't make it back to the track, because he was blindsided by a tractor trailer that cut him off and Velasquez was hit and thrown under the wheels that then proceeded to crush his lower extremities. Manny has undergone 4 surgeries; to fix his pelvis, spleen, and right knee, in a short time span and still has more to go. When I asked Velasquez on how he has gotten through this horrid and painful time he responded, "I just really needed to get through those tough days because I knew it would only get easier."
(Photo courtesy of UNF Athletics)
Velasquez's performance on the track gave him ASUN Indoor Track Performer of the Week, but it his positive attitude and willingness to get back that shines bright. "My whole family has been here to support me, without them I'm not sure if I could have made it through this recovery process. So many people have reached out to me via social media, and it means so much to me," said Manny of the abundance of support he has received. After a tragic injury like this many people would walk away from the sport and want nothing to do with it. But when asked Velasquez said, "Hopefully I'll be able to run again one day, but for now I'm just happy to be alive and breathing." There's only one word to describe this spirit and it is called resilience.
This accident has given Velasquez a new outlook on life and the true blessing that life is. His humor and good spirits have given him the opportunity to impact others as he believes that his second chance is an example to others to enjoy the one life your given, and to not ever taken running or breathing for granted. Manny has been blessed with support and wants to thank the Florida running community and all those that have supported him through this.