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(Michelle, Calla and myself – Pre-race dinner Space Coast Marathon 12/2013)

I first became aware of a force of nature called Calla Morris Hess (aka Miss Sassy) during 2013. Both members of a new international online running group called Moon Joggers, I’d read her posts and think what a welcoming woman with the most outrageous pink hair! How did she get away with having hair that color? To be quite honest, I was jealous she had the spunk to choose it and wear it with confidence regardless of people’s initial reactions. Because once you got past that initial meeting of Calla, you were hooked! There is SO much more to Calla than a first impression.

Calla is a greeter at the Church of Life. You know those volunteers that welcome parishioners before the service, make you feel part of the family. Calla is a greeter but she works on a larger scale. Nobody asked her to volunteer; she just does.  She has a smile ready for anyone and everyone. An arm is always ready to wrap around a friend. Doesn’t matter if you just met her. You’re a friend now. She has acted as an unofficial welcome wagon for Moon Joggers since the beginning. See her at a local race and she’s ready with a wave and a “Hi!” She’s a marathoner; knows how to take the pain and keep forging along. She is a woman of strong faith and draws on this faith to make her way through life, come what may.  She walks her walk, glad for you to come along if you’d like. Because of her graciousness to all, she is beloved. It is because of her love that her international family now rally for her.

Ever get a message that brings you to your knees? Calla’s family got such a message on the weekend of September 7, 2014. Dave, her husband, posted on Facebook that Calla had suffered a major head injury. She had undergone emergency surgery, was in a coma and on a ventilator. You could hear the air go out of the room. What! Not Calla! How could this whirlwind be confined to a bed and unable to breathe independently? But she was. What happened next is a demonstration how community combined with inner strength and faith can make wonderful things happen.

I’ve never witnessed such an outpouring of support and love for a person before Calla had her horrible accident. Messages flooded in from all corners of the world. Pictures of people running in pink: clothes, wigs and newly dyed hair are posted regularly. We all run for her until she can once again. All that positive energy focused and sent her way with one aim – that she recovers. Calla has been working the miracles for all it’s worth. She was out of her coma and off the ventilator within a few days, not a week or more, days. She has started to speak a little. Her success rolling in bed has progressed to supported steps. Regular updates have contained progress and inspiration to soften even the most hardened of hearts. Even if you’re not religious or spiritual, something is working with Calla to show the impossible is possible. She is determined and she is giving her recovery all it’s worth. She is grace, faith and will.  She will rise to run another day with the 1000s of her world family there to cheer her. She is a force of nature to be reckoned with gladly.

Initial progress has come in leaps and bounds. However, Calla’s family and support community are realistic that there is still a long road ahead for her. If by some chance you get taken in by this amazing spirit and would like to help, please visit her support page. Even just sharing her story or encouraging comments will add to her recovery.