WEST ISLIP, NY - It was believed she would never walk again, but three years after a major spinal cord injury Kelly Dean has defied the odds.
"My attitude from the beginning," she says, was "this is not for me, I'm going to walk again."
Kelly injured herself in a freak accident in July 2005 at Robert Moses State Park. She was doing what millions do every summer: enjoying the surf by diving through the waves.
"I actually cleared my hands and my arms," she explains. "But I hit my head on a sandbar because it was a little too shallow."
Kelly was rushed to Good Samaritan Hospital in West Islip where she was operated on, but was left paralyzed.
After a while she began moving her shoulders and elbows, from there she began intense physical and occupational therapy. It was after years of hard work and determination when she began to walk again.
She just cut the ribbon for the grand opening of Good Samaritan's new outpatient rehabilitation Center Wednesday, where she remains an inspiration.
As far as the staff is concerned, Kelly is uncharted territory. She has defied the odds and continues to do so.
"She played softball for the University of Arizona and she wants to get back to doing that," said Jack Sharp, her occupational therapist. "She will one day."
Kelly attributes her success to keeping a positive attitude.
"Attitude is 100% of your recovery it really does make a difference," she said. "My attitude from the beginning was positive and as far as I was concerned I was going to make it happen."
Kelly has made it happen, and wishes she could bottle that, and give it to others.
"I'm so happy I enjoy my life again," she said.