Lisa Brainard is shown on the TerraTrike she rides on the area trails. The recumbent trike has allowed her to get back out into nature as well as get some needed exercise for her recovery process. Brainard fell from a bridge while taking photos for the newspaper in September of 2012. While in the hospital recovering from those injuries, she suffered a stroke which affected her peripheral vision and mobility on her left side.  SUBMITTED PHOTO
Lisa Brainard is shown on the TerraTrike she rides on the area trails. The recumbent trike has allowed her to get back out into nature as well as get some needed exercise for her recovery process. Brainard fell from a bridge while taking photos for the newspaper in September of 2012. While in the hospital recovering from those injuries, she suffered a stroke which affected her peripheral vision and mobility on her left side. SUBMITTED PHOTO
It has been just over a year since Republican-Leader editor Lisa Brainard fell 26 feet into a riverbed and began her long road to recovery. The injuries sustained from the fall and subsequent stroke in the hospital were extensive and detailed in Brainard's "Journey vs. Destination" column printed in the Bluff Country Reader on Aug. 27, her first since her accident.

Followers of her column over the years have come to understand how much being outdoors means to Brainard as well as her current efforts to overcome physical barriers to again enjoy the great outdoors.

Throughout the recovery process, Brainard has had numerous people help her out in many difference ways. "I'm sending out a huge hug and a thank you to everyone," she shared during a recent interview.

Brainard has been able to have much of her medical expenses taken care of through workers compensation. However, there are still expenses relating to her continued recovery that have not been alleviated. Those people interested in assisting Brainard monetarily will now be able to contribute to a benefit fund set up in her name.

Reflecting upon where her perspective has been throughout the recovery process, Brainard said, "I'm lucky to have survived it. I've escaped death twice."

Though dark thoughts of depression sometimes reduced her desire to keep fighting, Brainard has been able to come to the realization that, "there is so much more life to take in."

One thing, by her own admission, that "improved my attitude 1,000 percent," was the acquisition of a TerraTrike recumbent trike.

Currently borrowing the trike from a good friend who had purchased it, Brainard is looking to purchase it since she has already logged over 250 miles on it. She has been able to improve her level of physical activity and enjoyment of the outdoors using it.

As the weather gets colder, she will be heading out on the Root River State Trails less and less, but she still attempts to get out on it every day.

In a Sept. 9 column, Brainard explained the physical and emotional benefits of riding. "The attitude adjustment delivered by the TerraTrike is a welcome boost during this rehabilitation and recovery process," she had written.

From the time she was worried she might not be able to get outside to now being able to ride along the trails, Brainard has made important strides in her recovery. "I'm so happy to be able to be getting out on my own," she remarked, adding she had been a very independent person before the accident.

Being around nature rejuvenates Brainard. "I've always loved getting outdoors, even when I was a little kid."

She continues to capture nature through her photography and shares her thoughts through her column to inspire others to take advantage of the natural beauty around them. An avid backpack camper, Brainard has an extensive network of friends and acquaintances with whom she goes on camping trips. They have been aware of her condition and have been helping her as well.

It has been the returning of the favor Brainard had been extending for years as she sometimes reported on benefit dinners and fundraisers.

Considering those times when she was helping spread the word about those in need, Brainard stated, "I sometimes dreaded doing the interviews with those having the benefits, but talking with both the people who needed help and their friends always left me feeling better."

She continued by saying she was pleased she could encourage better community awareness and empathy for stories of that nature. "It feels weird to be in a situation to have a fundraiser for myself, but I thank everyone who is spearheading it," she added.

Brainard said she would most likely spend a future column thanking specific people.

The Lisa Brainard Recovery Fund has been set up at the F&M Community Bank, 100 St. Anthony N., Preston. Checks should be made out to the name of the fund and any donations can be sent by mail or brought in directly to the bank.

The funds collected will be used to purchase the recumbent trike, a shed for the trike, medical expenses, and computer repairs in preparation for the day she can return to work. Those who contribute are asked to leave their name so Brainard can thank them personally.

Her days ahead will still be full of overcoming muscle spasms, peripheral vision issues, balance and coordination.

There are days where the current problems are obvious, but Brainard said both her physical and occupational therapists have noted her significant progress since the beginning.

Her goal one day is to be able to walk unaided and get back to hiking on the trails where she is most at ease. "I have made that into my world, and I want to get back to it," she stated.

As Brainard moves toward that achievement, she and everyone who supports her have no doubt her determination will lead her to success.