Paramedic shot & beaten last year prepares for LR marathon

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark.– A paramedic who was shot in the head twice and beaten in 2018 prepares Saturday night to participate in the Little Rock Marathon Sunday. 

It’s the Oklahoma woman’s first marathon since nearly dying in January 2018. 

A co-worker shot Bonnie Vanderaa in the head twice then beat her about the year ago near Tulsa, Oklahoma. The two were not working at the time when it occurred.

She’s in Little Rock this weekend not to watch but to walk the full 26.2 miles.

Her strength shines just as much if not more than her star studded walker she uses to stroll our station’s hallways Saturday morning. 

Vanderaa said, “You can’t be mad at life. It’s a sucky way to live.”

Her friends back home in Vinita, Oklahoma, call her the real life Wonder woman.

“Well the doctors told family and co-workers that I wasn’t going to survive. But, you know, I obviously have a purpose left.”

She drove to Little Rock, Arkansas, for her first full marathon since January 2018 when her goal of running a race in every state paused. 

She said, “After the second shot of course I was holding the back of my head with my hands and he took a baton stick and beat my hands until the stick broke.”

Vanderaa describes about a year ago when the paramedic’s partner nearly killed her before taking his own life. 

“Well I had a stroke, a skull fracture, a head bleed and now I have seizures,” she told us. 

Completing the Little Rock Marathon will mean more than checking Arkansas off the list. 

The former avid runner said, “Over the last year I’ve struggled with that purpose. You know, finding it.  What is it and why am I still here?”

It adds to the purpose that this superhero says she found. 

Her message to others going through something, “Don’t give up. Sometimes it’s 5 minutes at a time or even one minute at a time.” 

She shares her story to help power others around her. 

Two of her friends are in town supporting her. One of them will be walking the marathon next to her. 

Her start time is 6 a.m.. Sunday. 

Her friends in Oklahoma started a hashtag #BonnieStrong to support her. 

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