Haley Scott DeMaria is the former Notre Dame swimmer who survived her conference championship team’s fatal bus accident in 1992, which left her paralyzed from the waist down. On Oct. 24, DeMaria, who is now an author and motivational speaker, will share her inspirational story at the Holiday Inn Executive Center on Greenwich Road, in an event that is free and open to the public. DeMaria will speak at 7:30 p.m., followed by a question and answer period, book sale and signing. The event will conclude by 9:30 p.m. The program is sponsored by Bon Secours for Women.
The bus accident took place during a snowstorm on a January night in South Bend, Indiana. The team bus was only four miles from Notre Dame’s campus following a swim meet at Northwestern University. The accident killed two of DeMaria’s teammates and fellow freshmen, Meghan Beeler and Colleen Hipp. DeMaria was told she would never walk again, but instead, went on to walk and swim again, driven to honor the memory and lives of her fallen teammates.
DeMaria endured great personal risk to keep her promise to swim again for Notre Dame and honor her fallen teammates. In her 19-month journey from the accident in January of 1992 to when she swam again in October of 1993, she survived five lengthy, life-threatening surgeries. Eventually, she had to learn how to sit, stand, crawl and walk all over again.
DeMaria’s book, “What Though The Odds: Haley Scott’s Journey of Faith and Triumph” was painstakingly researched for over five years using recorded interviews with her teammates, family, coaches, medical personnel and law enforcement officers. DeMaria’s own journal, which she maintained throughout her ordeal, also was a resource for the writing of the book, along with newspaper articles, television coverage and police reports. The book tells DeMaria’s story of how she fought for her life, held on to and accomplished her dream of walking again and going on to swim for Notre Dame, and how all of the relationships in her life were changed forever by the accident. “What Though the Odds” is also about DeMaria’s faith, which she says was undefined at the time of the accident, but grew to become a major force in her life to this day.
“Haley’s story is very compelling,” said Mary Anne Graf, vice president of Bon Secours for Women. “She will take the audience through her inspirational journey of faith and triumph. She also will have a special message for mothers and daughters from the lessons she learned about the many complexities of her own relationship with her mother, which surfaced during her quest to walk and swim again.”
Lou Holtz, legendary football coach, ESPN studio host and game analyst says of Haley, “She is a very special young lady and has had a positive influence on my life as well as many others. I think what Haley teaches us is life is 10 percent what happens and 90 percent how you react to it. She’s my hero. Her courage and attitude has been an inspiration to me and millions of other people.”
DeMaria graduated from Notre Dame with a bachelor’s degree in history and resides in Annapolis, Maryland, with her husband and two sons. She is the recipient of the Executive Journal Comeback of the Year Award (1993), the Honda Award for Inspiration (1993-94) and the Gene Autry Courage in Sport Award (1994). She was named Woman of the Year at the National Women’s Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C., (June 1994) and was named a Fellow at the Institute for International Sport in Rhode Island (June 1995). DeMaria also carried the Olympic flame for the 1996 Olympic Torch Relay, and in 1997, she completed the Los Angeles Marathon.
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