Harrisonburg woman prepares for bike ride of a lifetime

By: Jazmin Bailey Email
By: Jazmin Bailey Email

HARRISONBURG, Va. -- The story of Jeanne Roberts' remarkable recovery began July 15, 2012. That day, the Harrisonburg woman and her boyfriend planned to spend time surfing on the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

However, Roberts could not catch a wave and decided to head for the shore.

Moments later, her surfboard got caught in the sand. The fin slashed straight through the nerves, veins and muscles in her leg.

"I'm screaming help, help, help...but I'm slowly losing energy," Roberts recalled.

Strangers helped her to the shore where she spent 30 minutes waiting for an ambulance. Another 30 minutes passed as Roberts rode to the nearest hospital, but that was not her last stop.

"I heard the doctors say we need to Life Flight her to Norfolk."

The surfboard also cut two inches of Roberts' femoral artery.

In Norfolk, doctors performed emergency surgery, but Roberts was in no shape to be discharged.

"I forgot how to walk," she said.

Nurses at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital had to teach her the skill again.

"They'd say it's just a rocking motion. You put your heel down, then the pad of your foot all the way to your toes and then repeat," Roberts recalled.

She spent two weeks in the hospital and when she came home, she could barely move. That is where her boyfriend, Kevin Sherman, was able to step in.

"When I wasn't working, I was doing everything to help her," Sherman said.

Robert's friend Annie Long helped as well; documenting every major and minor triumph in her recovery. That included Roberts' first walk to Kline's Dairy Bar in Harrisonburg.

"It was a big deal for her to walk to Kline's. It was a big deal for her to take a shower or to walk across the room," Long said.

By November of 2012, Roberts made some great strides and out of excitement, she shared them in a home video on YouTube.

"I'm done with blood thinners. I'm pretty much back to being a normal human being, minus the fact that I can't run well. To celebrate, I bought a bike," Roberts said.

That celebration will continue this summer when Roberts, Sherman and Long bike from Georgetown, District of Columbia to Seaside, Oregon. Roberts said she hopes the ride will inspire others.

"If I almost lost my life and my leg, but I'm going to bike across the United States, I mean go for your dreams, your goals, your passions, and explore life and feel it. Feel it on your skin."

The trio will begin their bike tour in June and when they do, it will cost them a little less. Roberts recently won the Bicycle Touring Pro Travel Scholarship, which is worth $500.

The scholarship is awarded to one person each year that wants to experience the world on a bike.

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