Whitney Hardy had it all going for her. She was student body president and a soccer captain at Truckee High School, where she graduated in 2006. She then played soccer at Tufts University, and after graduating in 2010 worked high-powered jobs in finance and real estate in Boston, and had recently become engaged to her longtime boyfriend Dan Stebbins. But Whitney’s whole life changed in a matter of seconds on Feb. 20, 2014, when she was hit by a car while out for a run in Boston.  

Hardy suffered a compound fracture of her leg and a number of other complications, but it was the traumatic brain injury (TBI) that nearly took her life. She was in the ICU for two months. Her injuries were so severe that her surgeon gave her a 5 to 10 percent chance of survival. Hardy has slowly recovered, spending months in a rehab center and undergoing daily physical, occupational, and speech therapy for the injuries to her brain and leg. Stebbins, whose future mother-in-law calls “her hero,” quit his job in software sales and spent every day by her side.

Whitney’s parents, Tony and Molly, have taken more then a dozen trips from Truckee to Boston since her accident. For them, the past year and a half has been a blur of medical appointments, difficult decisions, and slow, painful progress.

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“You figure it never will happen to you,” said Tony. “It opened up a whole raw side of life that you don’t normally experience.”

After the accident, Stebbins started the #FightHardy campaign, raising money from Whitney’s Boston and Tufts friends. The #FightHardy campaign surpassed its $50,000 goal last June by more than $25,000. When the fundraising effort hit Truckee, it took off like wildfire. Businesses including Wild Cherries, Truckee River Winery, and Cupcake Tahoe held Whitney Wednesdays, where they donated a portion or all of their proceeds to her medical fund. At a Concert in the Park in Truckee, the Truckee Donner Public Utility District staff passed around a hat to collect money. In fact, there were so many efforts to help Whitney that there is not enough space here to list them all. The Hardys attribute much of the tireless organizing efforts to their longtime friend Mercie Galvin.

One of the most successful fundraisers was by a group of Truckee club soccer parents whose children had played soccer with Whitney. Led by former Sugar Bowl CEO Rob Kautz and his wife Kerry, they organized a fundraiser at the ski resort on Oct. 5, 2014. More than 240 people attended the event, which generated more than $42,000.

“Whitney has always been this vibrant, bright, and athletic girl,” said Rob Kautz. “The community as a whole just wanted to help.”

Whitney still has problems with short-term memory, but she has beat the odds and is a survivor.

She was able to visit Truckee in June and attend a Squaw Valley Institute presentation by ABC News Anchorman Bob Woodruff, who suffered a TBI while covering the war in Iraq. Woodruff spent 15 minutes with her and, according to Tony, tears were shed by both of them.

The Hardys are deeply appreciative to all who have helped Whitney.

“How do I repay these people?” asked Tony. “All you can do is pay it forward.”

Author

  • Tim Hauserman

    Tim Hauserman latest book is “Going it Alone: Ramblings and Reflections from the trail” published in 2022. He also wrote the official guidebook to the Tahoe Rim Trail, the 4th edition of which was published in 2020. His other books include “Monsters in the Woods: Backpacking with Children” and "Gertrude's Tahoe Adventures in Time." Tim has lived in Tahoe City since he was a little tyke and continues to be amazed with the beauty of Lake Tahoe. His former English teachers, on the other hand, are probably amazed that he became a writer. Contact Tim at writeonrex@yahoo.com

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