KUSA - Her recovery is nothing short of a miracle. After falling more than 300 feet while rock climbing and enduring years of rehab, Danielle Watson is skiing once again.
Watson says life is about the way you choose to look at things. It's a focus on a possibility or a limit.
She looks up the groomed run at Winter Park where adaptive ski racers are warming up. Being part of it represents Watson's choice in how she looks at life.
That perspective came after a day on a different mountain. She was climbing a rock ledge near Gunnison the summer of 2011 when she fell.
She broke her ankles, leg and pelvis. She severed her spine in two different places.
"I survived something I shouldn't have survived," She said.
She woke up one week after she was hurt. She was in Denver Health Medical Center. She was paralyzed.
That is where Danielle learned that her rope slipped through the harness. It sent her on a free fall the height of a 30 story building. Her surgeon said in a study of 287 other falls, no one survived a fall more than 100 feet.
Even her doctors and her physical therapist at Denver Health were amazed.
"To fall 300 feet and live is just miraculous. She is an incredible person," said Michael Blei, Director of Rehab medicine at Denver Health.
Danielle survived because she landed on her feet. Her legs and back absorbed the horrendous impact. They say if she had hit her torso first, or her head, she would have died instantly.
A year and a half after her fall, she is strong enough to learn to do adaptive sports like skiing. And it is getting her back to the outdoor sports she has loved for so long. It has taken tremendous work and patience.
"I have my bad days when I'm frustrated and I wish that I could walk again, but truthfully, I have learned so much and grown so much, I don't know if I would erase it from my story." Watson said.
For her, it is a choice to seek out the gain, when the loss is obvious. She says it is the inspiration she wants to spread.
"I hope people will see they can even have gratitude just to hop out of bed in the morning," she said.
As she turned her way down the slopes she thought of what It is exactly what she wrote in a thank you to her doctors.
"I am very grateful for my life and am determined to live it to its fullest," she said.
The moment she crossed the finish line felt wonderfully far from the Emergency Room, and the very ones who helped her there, are the smiles and cheers who greeted her at finish.
"I know have a purpose. I just don't know all of what it is yet," she said.
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