INDUSTRY (CBS) — Captain Mark Kelly — retired astronaut — is also known as former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords’ husband. Kelly came to a big event in Industry Saturday night — dedicated to survivors of traumatic brain injuries.
Kelly was there to honor a Southern California couple with a special award.
CBS2 and KCAL9 reporter Rachel Kim was also there.
Katherine Wolf, a stroke survivor, says “Just about four years ago, I was literally hanging by a shred to life. I very much nearly died.”
The right side of Wolf’s face is paralyzed. But as Kim reports, her hope and determination are not.
In 2008, she and husband Jay were raising their six-month-old son. Wolf, then a mere 22, was modeling and acting. And then one day, a massive stroke.
“I was in my kitchen making lunch and I fell to my knees, my arms and legs went numb.”
Kim reports that Wolf had severe bleeding in her brain caused by a congenital brain defect. During a 16-hour surgery, UCLA doctors removed 60% of her cerebellum.
Wolf had extensive rehab work ahead. She had to re-learn to do almost everything.
She was eventually transferred to Casa Colina’s Rehabilitation program.
Wolf never got down. “I maintained an extremely positive outlook, fueled by my faith, yeah — this was terrible but I can do this, I can get through this.”
She did so with the help of her other half. Says Jay Wolf “It was a difficult situation — but it was my honor to step in, come alongside her, and hold her up in areas where she couldn’t.”
For the couple’s strength and fortitude, Casa Colina honored them with their Courage Award.
The man who presented it, knows exactly the challenges they faced, “I certainly feel somewhat of a connection with them.”
Above all, Kelly understands the strength and optimism it takes to get through a traumatic brain injury. “Another person in Gabby’s situation or Katerhine’s situation, somebody that wasn’t such a hard worker, they just might give up. If you give up in that situation, you’re not going to want to improve.”
With Giffords resigning from Congress, Kelly says his wife can dedicate herself to healing. “She’s working very hard, she has a full schedule, she’s improving every week and she’s really hopeful she’ll get back to work at some point.’
Kim reports that Katherine Wolf shares that same determination. “Hope heals your soul – and that’s ultimately what matters, isn’t it?”