Woman injured by drunk driver to participate in Dallas marathon

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by JIM DOUGLAS / WFAA

Bio | Email | Follow: @wfaajdouglas

wfaa.com

Posted on December 9, 2009 at 7:17 PM

Updated Thursday, Dec 10 at 7:53 AM

DECATUR — Jackie Murphree's smile was taken by a drunk driver in August, 2007.

 Ever since then, an army of family, friends and strangers has been trying to give it back.

Rick Ward is one of them. "We wanted to think of something else we could do to make that happen," said Ward, who is a physical therapist in Decatur.

Ward and a handful of other runners came up with the idea to push Murphree the full 26 miles of the Dallas White Rock Marathon on Sunday. Ward hopes it will keep her story in the public eye.

His relay team will push her in five and six-mile segments in a three-wheeled buggy modified to support her legs. The vehicle is tricked out in Aggie colors.

"We're blessed by it, and honored by it," said Pat Murphree of the effort for his daughter.

He quit his job to care for Jackie shortly after the collision on U.S. 380 in Decatur. Jackie will turn 23 next month, but it's not clear whether she understands that. The crash left her severely brain-damaged and confined to a wheelchair.

Her care includes experimental stem cell treatments in China funded entirely by donations. They returned from their second trip abroad a few weeks ago.

Pat Murphree said he sees only tiny improvement, but he and several physical therapists continually work with Jackie to give her the best quality of life possible.

It's enough for Rick Ward and other runners to throw heart, lungs and legs into the struggle.

And for inspiration, all they need is a smile.

E-mail jdouglas@wfaa.com

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