Decade after accident, author Janet Oberholtzer tells her story at Caernarvon Township Berks

Record photo by Elizabeth Mazenko A decade after the accident, Janet Oberholtzer comes back to Caernarvon Township Berks and talks May 16 to family, friends and fans about overcoming challenges.
Record photo by Elizabeth Mazenko After her motivational talk, Janet Oberholtzer signs personal statements in her book "Because I Can."

“Doing What I Can, With What I Have, Where I Am,” Janet Oberholtzer shared her story during a visit to Caernarvon Township Berks May 16.

“What can I do to make life worth living,” Oberholtzer reads from the prologue to her book “Because I Can.”

A natural writer, Oberholtzer tells all in her memoir about the accident that almost took her life and the struggle to ‘get back to normal’ that plagued her afterwards. Known to go the extra step, Oberholtzer has started talking to her fans about what she learned through her inspirational journey and how they can use her life lessons in their own personal challenges. May 16, she came to Caernarvon Township Berks social hall and spoke to an audience of family, friends and a few fans who have found comfort in her story.

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Oberholtzer, her husband, and her three sons were on a yearlong, cross country trip at the time of the accident. On May 20, 2004, after a perfect day at Malibu Beach, their motor home was involved in a six-vehicle collision; the other five being semi-trucks. The impact was straight to the passenger side front seat where Oberholtz was sitting. Twelve days later, she woke up from a medically induced coma to a shattered pelvis (which her doctors named ‘Humpty Dumpty’) and extreme soft tissue damage to her left leg.

Although severely disfigured, her leg was saved and three months later she was walking with the help of a walker. Although the physical healing was underway and going much better than anyone expected, the true test was the emotional trauma that followed the accident.

In her motivational speech, Oberholtz touched on four key points that helped her get though her extreme challenge to live; Ask, Allow, Adjust, Adapt. With each point she explained her own achievements and setbacks during her ongoing healing process.

“Why wasn’t I in the bathroom?” Oberholtzer asks herself as she talked about the common consolation phrase “Everything happens for a reason.” Distraught and depressed in her effort to find a reason for the crash or the pain, she decided to change the phrase to “Everything happens, a reason may or may not come of it.”

Digging into her depression, Oberholtzer talked about how frustrated she was and how she began to blame her husband, Jerry, for the crash though the cause was semi-truck #2, how ticked off she would get when someone told her “at least you have your leg,” when she was sad about the pain and deformity, and how one night she wrote her own obituary and realized that she wanted more with her life.

Today, Oberholtzer achieved her and her husband’s dream and moved to Florida where she finds the beauty of life in the beaches and the skies. She completes marathons using a run/walk/run timer in order not to reinjure herself while running. But most of all, as she travels and tells her story to move audiences, she finds joy and inspiration in the people’s stories who she has unknowingly helped by sharing hers.