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When Bree McMahon was a high school senior, her future was set: She had already earned a scholarship to play soccer in college.
But that future changed suddenly one day in 2009, when a close friend accidentally struck McMahon with a car. Doctors could not save her left leg.
Still, McMahon was undeterred. She forgave her friend, and immediately asked her doctor when it might be possible to run again. “I'll admit it, I'm hardheaded,” the 21-year-old told Jenna Bush Hager in a segment that aired on TODAY Monday, a follow-up to a report Hager did four years ago. “I knew what I wanted, and I was gonna chase after it with everything I had.”
And chase McMahon did. She learned how to walk with a prosthetic — and her first steps were taken on a soccer field.
Brevard College in North Carolina honored McMahon’s scholarship, and she joined the soccer team, eventually playing as goalie with her prosthetic leg.
“She took this adversity and she owned it,” said teammate Lindsay Pritchard. “[Playing again] was her dream from day one. And she never gave up on it.”
Not everyone believed McMahon would compete again. Kathleen McMahon, Bree’s mother, said that when the family swore she’d return to the field, most people thought they were “delusional.” But Kathleen never doubted Bree. “Seriously, you don’t know our daughter,” she said.
McMahon’s inspirational tale has touched the lives of other amputees.
After the Boston Marathon bombing in April, McMahon spoke to survivors, including Roseann Sdoia, who lost her right leg. That conversation moved Sdoia, who appeared on TODAY and told McMahon, “You're truly an inspiration, and you really helped me see potential that I have in the future.”
McMahon’s experience, her mother said, shows survivors of physical trauma that “recovery is 99 percent choice and 1 percent chance.”
McMahon is grateful for every moment she’s earned on the field.
“You never know how much you truly appreciate something till it's been taken away from you,” she told TODAY. “And so you just try your hardest to get back what you've lost, and that's what I do with soccer.”