QUINCY, Ill. (AP) — Flanked by her parents, Quincy University student Shannon Peters walked around campus on a sunny Saturday afternoon.
Peters smiled and pumped her arms as her father, Matt, walked to her right and her mother, Mary, held her left hand as they strolled south on 18th Street near Pepsi Arena. Their goal was to walk around the perimeter of the campus, which was no small chore considering what Shannon Peters has gone through over the past 15 months.
Shannon Peters nearly died the last time she walked on QU's campus. Peters was struck by a car while crossing Chestnut Street about 350 feet east of 18th Street on Jan. 7, 2013.
"Our phone call was that she was dead," Mary Peters said. "They weren't going to do anything for her. They said it wasn't worth it. They were just going to let her go. We asked them not to do that and said, 'Please, just wait until we get there.'"
Shannon Peters held on for her parents to make the trip from Elk Grove Village, Ill., that day. She's been fighting ever since, going from her death bed to trying to regain a life she once lived. Peters has trouble talking, but is able to walk and eat on her own. It's more than what was ever expected of her in the wake of the accident.
The Peters family was in town for the second "Strides for Shannon" fundraiser organized by Greek organizations at QU. All of the money raised from the event goes toward helping the Peters family pay medical bills.
More than 100 people participated in a 5 kilometer run or were there to join the Peters family on a milelong walk.
No one is more surprised with the progress Shannon Peters has made than QU sophomore Ashley Cahill. Cahill was with Peters on the day of the accident. Just back from the school's winter break, the two were about to run errands when tragedy struck.
"I was sitting in my car," Cahill said. "I didn't see it because I was looking down. But I heard it. It's definitely not a sound that I'm going to be able to get rid of. I still have nightmares. They are few and far between now because she brightens my day. I love it when I get pictures sent to me from her friends that I know, or if she calls me and leaves me random voicemails. It's really encouraging."
In the wake of the accident, the city and university have made safety-related improvements along streets near campus.
Last year, the city installed four solar-powered pedestrian warning signs. Two were placed on Chestnut between 18th and 20th streets, near the accident site, and two others were placed on 18th Street between Lind and Elm. The school paid for all of the signs, which are being maintained by the city. The city also increased the wattage on five streetlights in the campus area.
Shannon Peters suffers from long-term memory loss. Cahill and Ashley Reese, who are in the same Alpha Omicron Pi sorority as Peters, say that Peters doesn't remember their time together during Peters' freshman year at QU.
"She's at the point now that she knows that she should know us, but she doesn't," Reese said. "That makes her frustrated."
Cahill and Reese, who helped organize the event, are both proud of the fight that Peters has shown in her recovery.
"God is good. She is a miracle," Cahill said. "All of the doctors said she'll never talk again, she'll never walk again, she'll never come out of her coma. She's not going to make it out of surgery. She was like, 'Nope. Sorry, I'm here proving everyone wrong.'"
Peters still has a long way to go in her recovery. She spent six months in the hospital after the accident. She was in a rehabilitation center for a month before rejoining her parents at home. Mary Peters said her daughter will begin doing music therapy soon.
"She's slowly getting back," Matt Peters said. "It's going to take a lot more time, but we're getting there day by day."
QU's Greek community plans to continue having an annual run in Shannon Peters' honor. Her family was happy she was able to participate in this year's event. Mary Peters said it's not known how much of a recovery her daughter will be able to make.
"This is more than (the doctors) ever anticipated, so no one has any idea," she said. "Every day is more than what she was supposed to do."
And the family is already making plans for the future.
Shannon turns 21 in September and the family has already made plans.
"Where are we going to go?" Mary Peters asked her.
"Vegas," Shannon said.
Considering all of the odds Shannon Peters has beaten to get to where she is today, Las Vegas may be in trouble when the Peters family hits town.
Online: The Quincy Herald-Whig, http://bit.ly/1ilptdc
Information from: The Quincy Herald-Whig, http://www.whig.com