RENO, Nev. (KOLO) It's been nearly a year since Reno's Kelly Cass was almost killed by a drunk driver. She was hit while skateboarding in Sacramento, going head-first into the windshield. At the time, she was told she might lose both legs, and would likely never use them again. She has proved everybody wrong.
"It's amazing," admits Cass. "Looking back a year ago, I wouldn't have seen this. I believed it, I believed in my heart that things were going to get back to where they were. But when doctors are saying you're never going to walk again, it really did get into my head for a minute."
Cass is walking again, and has come a long way since that fateful December day. She does physical training two hours per day, four days a week at Spine Nevada.
"Kelly is a dream patient, she tackles this injury with drive and determination and positivity," says physical therapist Thais Mollet. "And it's just incredible to have her in the clinic."
Mollet has worked with professional athletes and Olympians, and knows what it takes for someone to succeed in their comeback.
"I think the most important thing to bring to rehab is attitude," adds Mollet.
"It's a mental game as much as it is a physical game," stresses Cass. "So I think mentally you have to picture yourself getting better."
That's not always easy, considering the setbacks along the way. Cass has already had thirteen surgeries, and will have at least three more. She needs procedures done on each foot, and another one on her right knee. That means she will likely be in a wheelchair for at least twelve weeks to recover. A tough blow for somebody who's already made such incredible progress. But as Mollet points out, it's actually a positive thing.
"Those setbacks, although they feel like setbacks, are really kind of like transition points to the next level," says Mollet. "Some of the other surgeries she's had has helped her kind of push forward to the next level."
The man who hit Cass, Angel Huerta, is due back in court on January 31st. He is facing three felony charges and two misdemeanors, including DUI, driving with a suspended license and hit and run causing serious injury. Cass plans to testify to let both Huerta and the judge know how much her life was affected by the accident.
But despite the setbacks, long hours of therapy, and the thought of months in a wheelchair, Cass is thankful this Thanksgiving.
"I honestly, I feel so blessed. I feel like wow, there's no way I could have done it without this community and this therapy team. This is going to be a really good Thanksgiving. We are really grateful. We are so grateful to have all that we have."
Copyright KOLO-TV 2019