A woman paralyzed in the June 29 derecho storm has had an especially long road this year.
Carolina Alcalde’s current set of wheels is a far cry from what she's used to riding.
The 38-year-old was on her favorite red motorcycle last June when the derecho changed her life forever.
“The wind was pushing my bike between my thighs, and I was like, Wow, it is super windy out here,” she said.
Alcalde was near Meridian Hill Park in Northwest when a tree crashed down on her.
“I remember getting the green light and heading up the road, and I don’t remember anything else, and they said, ‘Ma’am, a tree fell on you,’” she said.
It severed her spinal cord and left her paralyzed.
“I wasn’t being careless on my motorcycle,” Alcalde said. “I was just going home. It wasn’t raining when it happened. It was just this crazy amount of wind that happened and it crushed me.”
Alcalde spent the past year doing intense physical therapy both inside the hospital and out.
She's looking forward to getting back to her work as an office manager, but mainly it's the little things she longs for.
“To know that I can’t stand up alone, to know that I can’t dance the way I used to or hug somebody straight on, eye-to-eye, that’s hard,” she said.
Now she's an accomplished speaker, sharing her story with Latinas Leading Tomorrow, a group of young girls she mentored before the injury.
“I can still smile every day if I want to," she said, "or I could lay in bed and let my parents do everything for me and not grow and not try to be independent."
Difficult circumstances can derail your life, or, as Alcalde has proven, they can add to your mission.