Janet Oberholtzer


Because I Can

Janet's Story:

I was born asking why … which did not go over well in my strict traditional Mennonite family (almost Amish) where following the many rules (especially for a girl) was expected. 

So I found a cute, progressive Mennonite boy and married him. Together we explored life outside the boxes of our childhoods. Making changes was freeing, but also conflicting at times. Buying a TV, jeans, jewelry and getting my hair cut were all new experiences for me. 

From ages 22 to 27, I gave birth to three adorable boys and soon realized I needed help to stay sane. Running became the thing … not running away from them (geesh, that thought would never have entered my mind) but running for my health. 

With time, I ran numerous half-marathons and a full marathon  (26.2 miles). I discovered running was beneficial for my body, mind and spirit. 

After a decade of being business owners, Jerry and I sold everything … our business, property and house. We bought a motorhome and began a sweet once-in-a-lifetime trip around the country. The boys were 11, 13 and 15. We packed books, bikes and beach toys. We visited museums, parks and factories to enhance their education. It was a glorious time until… 

I woke up in a hospital to discover that I’d almost died twelve days earlier in a six-vehicle accident. Thankfully Jerry and the boys were fine, unfortunately I wasn’t. I spent four years recovering from horrific leg and hip injuries. Somewhere between the ongoing surgeries, therapy and meds, I was sucked into the dark vertex of depression.

Finding myself debating whether or not life was worth living scared me enough to seek help from counselors. With their help, my determination, exercise and good food, I have learned to live well again in spite of the pain, limitations and deformed leg I now live with. 

By doing what I can, with what I have, where I am… I have recovered better than anticipated. At least twenty doctors  Continued at Right...


By doing what I can, with what I have, where I am… I have recovered better than anticipated. At least twenty doctors told me running was a thing of my past, but I was able to return to running in 2008, four years after the accident. Now I live in the tension of celebrating how well I recovered … while being honest about my disappointments. 

I ran 5 half-marathons between 2010 and 2012 and then on May 20, 2012, the 8th anniversary of the accident, I completed a full marathon… Bob Potts Marathon in York, PA. I’m now training for the New York City Marathon on November 4, 2012. 

I now live, speak and write about how I overcame major obstacles and I encourage people to be willing to tackle the challenges in their lives.

My memoir BECAUSE I CAN: Doing what I can, with what I have, where I am, won a publishing contest and was published by Rhizome Publishing. 

Find out more about Janet by visiting her website, following her on Twitter, Facebook, &/or Pinterest


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