(BLOOMINGTON) - Students will be returning to Indiana University's Bloomington campus, but nursing student Lauren Gill is still recovering from serious injuries she suffered practicing for the Little 500 bicycle race.
23-year-old Gill ended up on life support after crashing in during a practice run for the May race.
Gill rubbed tires with another cyclist. Her front tire hit the girl's back tire and Gill was thrown over the handlebars and landed on her shoulder and then her head.
Racers are taught to get up and continue but Gill didn't, signally something was seriously wrong.
Gill was unconscious and her face was covered in cinders from the track. She was rushed to the hospital where she was listed in critical condition. Due to swelling on her brain, a pressure monitor was drilled into her skull and she was placed on a ventilator to help her breathe.
WTHR reports that for days, Gill did not respond to family members.
Then early Easter morning, a turning point - at the exact time Pope Francis delivered his holiday Mass in Rome.
For Gill's deeply religious Catholic family, it was a sign.
Encouraged, just eight days after the crash, Kelsey, Lauren's sister vowed to go back to Bloomington to fulfill her sister's Little 500 dream.
The rookie nursing team led a tribute lap wearing stickers honoring Lauren.
Meanwhile, Lauren was doing therapy at the Rehabilitation Hospital of Indiana. She doesn't remember much about the accident.
Lauren's widespread brain injury created mental and physical deficits. Her family says Lauren was a stellar student and her determined nature is still there. Her goal is to walk again.
She has since been discharged from the hospital and is recovering at home in South Bend and hopes to return to IU.
Doctors say Lauren could continue to improve for up to two years. Her family believes her lengthy time as a patient will someday make her a better nurse.
The IU Student Foundation, which hosts the Little 500, says while Lauren's injuries are the most serious in race history, it would not lead to any changes in how the race is run in the future.
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