Milford resident won’t let her new disabilities define her

Meet three-time survivor and athlete, Gail Bruno

Gail Bruno

Gail Bruno has earned the title “survivor” – several times over.

As a 20-something, Bruno sustained a head-and-neck injury in the workplace. Recovery involved nine months of therapy.

Flash forward to Sept. 11, 2001. Bruno had just arrived to her workplace in the Twin Towers on the morning that terrorists destroyed the buildings with two hijacked airplanes. She survived, but was emotionally traumatized.

Though the Milford resident was athletic growing up (including playing on her high school’s basketball and field hockey teams) she discovered running only later in life. On her 40th birthday, Bruno made a wish on her birthday cake that she would one day complete a half marathon. That fall, she completed her first half marathon (Gulf Beach in Milford), followed by the SoNo Half (South Norwalk). Followed by a winter of training outside in freezing temperatures.

On April 1, 2017, Bruno said, “My dream finally came true, when I completed the Savin Rock (full) Marathon, just shy of my 42nd birthday, with my husband, sister and children present.”

But then, just two weeks after the race, while out on a training run, Bruno was struck by an SUV.

Recovery and Achilles

Bruno sustained multiple, severe injuries from the accident: A traumatic brain injury (TBI), sprained limbs, a shattered wrist, neck-and back- injuries, severe bruising, and chipped knee and leg bones.

For six months, she was unable to walk, and then eventually graduated to walking with a cane. In the spring of 2018, she progressed to running.

During this time she was introduced to the Connecticut Chapter of Achilles Connecticut, which strives to enable people with all types of disabilities and medical conditions to participate in mainstream run/walk events.

“My therapist suggested that I look into Achilles,” Bruno said. “My goal was to get active again, and I had seen Achilles athletes and guides at the New York City Marathon. I’m excited that they can support me in my goals.”

Hope and possibility

Since that introduction, Bruno has finished the Milford Hospital Live Well 5K with her running partner. Her summer race agenda includes the Achilles Hope and Possibility four-miler in New York City, and Achilles Connecticut Hope & Possibility, presented by Cigna, in Bloomfield. All that on top of ongoing therapy, and with her husband, John, raising two young children and running Route 1 Guitars in Milford.

When asked why she’s running Hope & Possibility, Bruno said, “I don’t want my new disabilities to define me. I was a marathoner, and I can be one again.”

Achilles Connecticut Hope & Possibility will take place on Sunday, July 22. Courses include a 5K run or walk, a 10K and the kids’ fun runs. For information, go to hartfordmarathon.com/achilles-ct-hope-possibility-run.

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