Runner seriously injured while rappelling determined to run again

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LAS VEGAS — Even as Brittany Fisher lay in a hospital bed — her legs mostly numb — she showed care and concern for her teammates on the Utah State University Cross Country team.

"She just has this positive attitude, this air about her I've known ever since she's been here," her coach, Gregg Gensel, said. "She's that way with all of her teammates. She's concerned about them, wants them to improve. She's very gregarious around them and wants everybody to be happy. She'd do anything for anybody."

Fisher, 21, of Naperville, Ill., was supposed to compete with them this weekend, but is instead in a hospital in Las Vegas recovering from a climbing accident. Earlier in the week, while on a trip to St. George for Spring Break, the Utah State Junior decided to go out on a climbing excursion at 3 a.m.

Fisher's brother, Braden, said he was surprised when he first heard of the early hour in which his sister was out, but he said she's an early riser who loves to stay busy. He thinks it was trouble sleeping that had prompted her to go rappelling that early March 12 morning.

She's just this girl that's resilient. She works hard, she's dedicated … anything positive (that can be said) probably fits for her.

–- Braden Fisher, brother

Braden Fisher said his sister and a male friend went to a 100 foot cliff and that as his sister started her descent, she started to go too quickly. She couldn't stop her progress and attempted to use her ungloved hand to slow herself down.

It began to burn and she let go, falling about 50 feet. A medical helicopter transported her to a hospital in Las Vegas, where the injuries were confined to her feet and legs.

"It's a miracle," Braden Fisher said. "Just to look at her — she really didn't suffer any injuries above the waist."

His sister has very little feeling in her legs, but can feel sensation in her toes. She is to undergo reconstructive surgery on her foot soon. Braden Fisher said her doctors are upbeat about her recovery.

"More than anything I think Brittany's extremely optimistic," Braden Fisher said. "She's just this girl that's resilient. She works hard, she's dedicated … anything positive (that can be said) probably fits for her."

He said his "bubbly, outgoing" younger sister is known for her big, bright smile and that it remains as she greets numerous visitors.

"Throughout the day today the people come in and she does more for them than they do for her," Braden Fisher said. "They feel her spirit. They feel her positivity. She smiles even through the pain and the tiredness. She's just so pleasant to everyone she sees."

Coach Gensel was among her visitors and said Brittany Fisher is going after her recovery as she would a challenge on the racetrack. She is setting goals for when she will walk again and when she will run.

"She's taken it like anything else that she does as an athlete," Gensel said. "Her frame of mind is: 'Give me the challenge, I'll improve and I'll run better each time' type of thing. That's exactly what she's doing with this."

He, like Fisher and her family, are confident that she will recover and that her positive attitude will play a large part in that.

Contributing: Mike Anderson


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