Thousands of runners are celebrating after crossing the finish line at the Route 66 Marathon in Tulsa. During the race, one woman from Vinita is inspiring others, one mile at a time.
"If I didn't have this now I wouldn't be here today. It gets me out of bed; it gives me a reason to live and to share my story," marathon runner Bonnie Van Deraa told News On 6.
Van Deraa was a paramedic. She told News On 6 that she was shot in the head twice last year by her partner. He beat her and left her for dead before killing himself.
"I remember the whole thing and I was like, 'I am not going to die here without a fight.'"
In spite of doctors telling her she wouldn't make it, Van Deraa recovered day after day earning her the nickname and costume "Wonder Woman."
"The wonder woman theme started when I was in the hospital. It reminds me to keep going and how strong I am - and helps me to encourage others," said Van Deraa.
Van Deraa was an avid runner before her incident. She said because of her head injury, she will never be able to run. However, she has been able to walk in four Route 66 Marathons and hopes to run a marathon in every state. She also hopes that every step she takes inspires everyone who sees her.
"I was deeply touched at her strength and determination to stick to a passion that she already had and is determined to get back," said fellow marathon runner Linda Maness.
"Each time someone tells me their story, it affects me personally, and helps me to keep going," said Van Deraa.
Van Deraa said she lives by the mantra of taking it 5 minutes at time.
"To cross that finish line, I am still living the dream. No matter what your dreams are, there's still a way to achieve them," Van Deraa shared with tears in her eyes.
Bonnie Van Deraa said she plans to continue racing in the Route 66 Marathon, and her next goal is to walk the Boston marathon!