A Disabling Motorcycle Crash Taught Her How to Live
From Racine, Wisconsin United Sates, Cathryn Hammes, known as “Cat”, has enjoyed motorcycle riding all her life. But on 20, May, 2006 while riding a van came across her path. There was nothing she could do. They collided leaving her with multiple injuries including traumatic brain injury and amputation of her left leg. She survived this motorcycle accident to a state altering her life forever. The months that followed were filled with the battles of existence and rehabilitation- survive and mend. On top of this, she lost her job as an Intensive Care Unit registered nurse, her house and her husband through a divorce. Battling back and determined to resume the life she knew - her courage and absolute drive to ride a motorcycle again is what Cat says ultimately got her back I the saddle - the saddle she rides in today - embroidered with “Above the Tombstone”!
Today Cat is a motivational speaker among her many activities including her website “OneLeggedBlonde.com”. When she delivers motivational speeches to groups, her opening words begin with - “When death throws you back.” It’s hard to say whether death did throw her back, or whether she kicked its butt back over the line. By medical opinion Cat should be dead. Her crash resulted in skull fractures, TBI, broken bones, collapsed lung and amputation of her leg. But not riding again was never an option. She shares a decision that changed her; “I could stay angry the rest of my life or pick myself up & the only way I knew how was to ride that Fat Boy again.”
During the months she spent in the hospital, restoring her body and resurrecting her courage, she met veterans who were dealing with losses far greater even than hers. It was in the saddle that her healing began to manifest in her actions. It is an inspiration to “the broken” as she pulls into VA Centers and veterans say- “If that little girl can ride that, I will walk again!”
Coming from a tough childhood and strong Southern stock had taught Cat that being a woman didn’t make her less, it just meant she had to work harder for what she wanted. Meeting veterans with losses even more staggering than hers - gave her perspective and renewed determination. Cat’s time is spent rehabbing, volunteering to assist veterans and educating the public on amputee issues, motorcycle safety and “Riding above the Tombstone”. As she speaks to others she shares that “If God himself came down and said, I will give it all back” she’d reply - “Thank you but no. I have found life”. Every day the meaning of her new life and the journey continues to reveal itself to both her and others – “I’ve learned how to live!”
Follow Cat this summer as she heads out on her awareness ride “Cigars for Warriors & Veterans Outreach of Wisconsin” which will kick off at the “C.A.T.S. 2 FEST” in San Antonio, Texas on May 29th. Her ride will then travel along the Gulf, up the East Coast visiting Cigar shops, Harley Dealers and Wounded Warrior Wards!
For more information about her epic journey – both on and off bike - and how you can get involved visit her website.
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