When Lauren Murphy suffered a traumatic brain injury, she had to learn how to sit in a chair, walk and eat by herself again.
She’s done all of those things since being hit by a car six years ago. And now she has added public speaking to her list of accomplishments.
The 31-year-old, alongside her mother Colleen Murphy, shared a message of working hard and never giving up while visiting students at St. Charles Borromeo School in St. Charles March 29.
It all ties into the family’s belief that “Murphys don’t quit,” Lauren Murphy told students.
During a business trip to Los Angeles in April of 2013, Murphy was hit by a car while she was on a morning run. Doctors described her brain injury as “catastrophic” and said she likely wouldn’t live. She spent 127 days in the hospital, and had four brain surgeries, which included the placement of a partial prosthetic skull made of plastic on the left side of her brain.
Murphy had to relearn how to hold her head up, sit in a chair, balance herself, make eye contact, eat and provide self-care.
“It was awful,” she told students of her recovery.
Following the injury, Murphy was diagnosed with aphasia, a language impairment that affects her ability to understand and speak words, as well as the ability to read and write. Murphy recently began journaling regularly in an effort to work on her reading and writing skills.
The Murphys, members of Assumption Parish in O’Fallon, credited the kindness and support of fellow parishioners, friends and family during Lauren’s recovery. Lauren’s mother, Colleen Murphy, also said that Incarnate Word Academy, from where Lauren graduated in 2006, especially has been a support to the family.
Alumnae and others at the school sent their prayers, cards and notes and food for months, Colleen Murphy said. “It was insane. Incarnate Word knows no bounds. This whole community has your back.”
The two told St. Charles Borromeo students that kindness is always free, and they asked students to describe some ways in which they can show kindness to others.
Faith also was a big part of Lauren’s recovery. Family and friends participated in a prayer chain, for example. “We know the power of the human spirit, the power of God, and of course prayer,” Colleen Murphy said.
On her flight to Los Angeles, Colleen Murphy realized she’d left her rosary at home. Someone arranged to have one delivered to her when she arrived at the hospital.
“I’ve carried that rosary in my purse for five years,” she said. “It was my lifeline.” A friend’s grandson was recently diagnosed with cancer, and she mailed the rosary to them. “I knew I wanted to give it to somebody,” she said. “I knew I would know when the time came.”
Lauren Murphy remains active in running, having participated in 29 5K races since the accident. She’s also involved with the Disabled Athlete Sports Association, which offers sports and fitness opportunities for people with permanent physical, visual and hearing disabilities. In May, she anticipates giving the commencement speech at Fontbonne University, from where she graduated with a degree in fashion merchandising. (She also has master’s degree in business administration from Lindenwood University, which she earned prior to the accident.)
St. Charles Borromeo’s Joseph Oppelt was in awe listening to Murphy’s story. “I wanted to tell her how successful and nice she is,” said the fifth grader, “and how she can overcome the biggest thing in her life.”
“You are so sweet,” Murphy said as she grinned. “You are awesome.”
>> Murphys Don’t Quit
Lauren Murphy and her family have
established a website with regular updates on Lauren’s activities and
speaking engagements. Visit murphysdontquit.com. The website also has links to social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.