Samantha Cerio Broke Both Legs and Underwent a Difficult Recovery — inside Her Life of Strength
In 2019, gymnast Samantha Cerio made an awkward landing, injuring both knees and breaking her legs, after which she had to undergo surgery and a lengthy recovery.
On April 5, 2019, the audience of the NCAA Regionals in Baton Rouge watched horrified as 22-year-old gymnast Samantha Cerio landed awkwardly at the end of her floor routine.
Cerio's disastrous landing resulted in bilateral knee dislocation and fractured legs, an injury Dr. Benton Emblom would later describe as " a 100-year storm," something neither he nor his colleagues had ever seen before.
Cerio's achievement was crowned with a job offer from Boeing in Seattle, where she will be working on the structural design analysis of rockets
Cerio had to undergo a lengthy procedure and was told to expect a painful and protracted recovery. But what doctors weren't counting on was Cerio's determination and sheer capacity for hard work.
The same unbending will and resilience that had made her a top contender in the ferociously competitive world of gymnastics came into play. Cerio had good reasons to be back on her feet long before the doctors' most optimistic predictions, and she set about doing it.
Cerio's first goal was to walk to her graduation. The gifted gymnast is no less brilliant as a student and had earned her degree in Aerospace Engineering at Auburn University in Alabama. A month after her injury, Cerio attended her graduation and received her hard-earned diploma on her feet, although with the support of crutches.
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A year ago today an extraordinary team of surgeons made sports medicine history in just over two hours. In the weeks and months that followed I was lucky enough to be supported by an incredible team of physical therapists and trainers who made sure I could cross the stage at graduation and walk down the aisle for my wedding day. I am so incredibly thankful for my family, my fiancé - now husband, best friend, and all of the amazing people who have supported me every day since. You have all been a part of sending love and support that helped me become the strongest version of myself. Thankful for every single one of you. #FlippingOut #GivingThanks #WarDamnSam
It was more than doctors had thought possible, and Cerio's achievement was crowned with a job offer from Boeing in Seattle, where she will be working on the structural design analysis of rockets.
It just might be that one of these days, we will see Cerio reaching for the stars at NASA. With her determination and will power, it is hard to imagine that anything she sets her mind to is beyond her reach.
WALKING DOWN THE AISLE
Cerio had another equally pressing motive to get back on her feet quickly, and off those crutches too. The gymnast had a wedding date set, and she was determined to walk down that aisle towards the man she loved on her own two feet, wearing her perfect satin slippers. Just two months after her injury, in June 2019, Cerio did just that.
Wearing a lovely, elegant full-length satin gown, Cerio walked down the aisle towards her fiancé, Joseph Wood, on the arm of her proud dad. Wood, who had been there by her side through every moment of the grueling challenge of the surgeries and subsequent therapy, couldn't have looked prouder of his lovely bride.
The glowing Cerio enjoyed her father-daughter dance at the reception and had her first romantic dance with her husband. What so many brides take for granted was a huge achievement for Cerio. After the wedding, Cerio and Wood left for Hawaii on their honeymoon, after which the former gymnast took up her new job at Boeing.
One thing that shocked Cerio was that the video of the routine in which she hurt herself so badly became viral. Cerio, who was used to seeing videos of her colleagues going viral when they performed perfect routines, and couldn't believe people were eager to watch someone is such obvious and intense pain. The clip was shared countless times and garnered millions of views.
It has been close to 18 months since Cerio's life was altered so dramatically by a slight slip, and even though her progress has been labeled by doctors as phenomenal, she is still far from regaining 100% of her mobility. As for gymnastics, that is now a dream from the past.
The vivacious young space engineer has taken up the threads of her new life, and even though she can no longer leap and dance in the air, she can definitely fly.