Disabled Dealer Magazine June 2006
The Winner’s Circle
Central Park Jogger Turns Despair and Misery into Hope and Possibility
By David Block
April 19th has been a date some people celebrate as a day of hope and for
others, it’s a day of infamy.
On April 19th, 1775, British troops and the Massachusetts Militia butted
heads, thus beginning the American Revolution.
On April 19th, 1943, the Jews of the Warsaw Ghetto heroically fought back
against the Nazis.
Exactly 50 years later – April 19th, 1993 in Waco, Texas, the FBI burned the
Davidians’ compound, killing many of them, including their leader David
Koresh (formerly known as Vernon Howell).
Two years later, April 19th, 1995 terrorists bombed the Alfred P. Murrah
Federal Building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
And for the Central Park jogger, Trisha Meili, April 19th, tragedy and hope
resulted from a horrific experience that changed her life forever because
on that date in 1989, she was raped, and assaulted while casually jogging
through Central Park. However, Meili miraculously recovered and is now an
inspiration to others.
When asked to describe that day, she said: “I have no recollection of that
night after 5:PM and that’s the result of my head injury. I don’t remember
leaving work, or going running.”
That day started out low-keyed. She remembered that a fellow Wall Street
colleague planned on visiting her at her apartment 10:PM that night to look
at her stereo, so she had to finish her usual Central Park jog in time to
She had no memory of running that night or of her abduction.
“I remember waking up in a hospital bed,” said Meili. “I was told that I
was in a deep coma for 12 days. One of the first things I remember was that
my ex-boyfriend was at the foot of my bed next to a nurse. I was asking a
nurse questions, but he kept answering, so I yelled, ‘shut up, Ken! I’m
talking to her.’ He said that that was the first time that I began to sound
like me again.”
Soon after coming out of her coma, Meili went for rehabilitation at Gaylord
Hospital in Wallingford Connecticut. “I couldn’t walk, I had trouble
talking, I couldn’t even feed myself, so I had to learn to do all those
things again,” said Meili.
While staying at Gaylord, she ran with some members of the Achilles Track
Club, which caters to people with disabilities. From seeing some members in
wheelchairs and others with Spina Bifida, she realized that if they could
run in spite of their disabilities, she could, too.
“After I left Gaylord, (in the fall of 1989) I went back to New York. One
of the first things I did was run in Central Park again because it was part
of my healing process, it was me saying, ‘whoever did this to me, couldn’t
stop me from moving forward with my life, they couldn’t stop me from doing
what I wanted to do.”
Her first run there was quite memorable because she saw the memorial that
was set up in her honor. “I was moved. There were flowers and so many
messages from people wishing me well…From all around the world, I got
cards, letters, people were praying for me. It fueled my sense of
determination to want to get better.”
She continued to run at Central Park, but never again at night by herself.
Because she viewed her recovery as a gift, she decided to give back, so she
continued to volunteer with Achilles; today, she’s their chairperson.
In addition, three years ago when her book, “I am the Central Park Jogger: A
Story of Hope and Possibility” was published, she was one of the driving
forces behind creating the Hope and Possibility 5-mile race in Central
Park. “The race celebrates what we can do, and the power of the human
spirit,” said Meili.
The current race director, Mary Bryant, Achilles’ Vice-President, shares
Meili’s sentiments. Bryan said, “The race is for people to focus on their
strengths, not their disabilities.”
The race is open to able bodied and people with disabilities.
This year the race will take place August 6th. For further information log
To order Meili’s book, log onto www.centralparkjogger.org.