Stage collapse victim continues recovery

Andrea Vellinga continues her recovery from injuries she suffered in the 2010 stage collapse at the State Fair.
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Most people only think about the State Fair stage collapse tragedy when they see a story on TV. But for the victims, there are daily reminders.

For Andrea Vellinga, there are 4,000 pages of medical bills and weekly therapy sessions. On Sunday, her comeback will include a trip back to where the tragedy took place. Vellinga is returning to one of her loves - running. She will participate in a 5K that begins at the very place where she got hurt nearly two years ago - the State Fairgrounds.

"I'm fine with that. It would be good to create a good memory. I don't remember the concert, but that's what I think of when I think of the fairgrounds is what happened to me. So, it'll be fun," said Vellinga.

It is a remarkable step for this Pendleton woman who has come so far since August 13, 2011. The 32-year-old woman who once enjoyed river rafting and running in the Mini Marathon was critically injured when the stage collapsed prior to the Sugarland concert. She has no memory of that evening.

"I don't even remember getting dressed to go," said Vellinga.

She spent five weeks in a coma with a traumatic brain injury.

"The visible injury was my right side. My skull had to be removed because it was crushed. My scapula back here was shattered and I had a couple of broken ribs and two broken vertebrae in my neck," said Vellinga.

There have been milestones in nearly two years. She came home after nine months in the hospital. Finally got out of that wheelchair. She no longer wears the helmet that protected her head.

But there have been many challenges. Seven surgeries. The breadwinner of the family cannot work or drive because of seizures.

Vellinga says she's no longer in pain, but she still has trouble with her left arm.

"Since I was injured on the right side of my brain, the left side of my body has been affected," she said.

But there have been significant milestones in therapy.

"I've learned to tie my shoes one-handed. I just bawled my eyes out.It sounds silly, but with a brain injury, it's exciting. That's a big accomplishment," said Vellinga.