Just about everybody figured it was going to take a miracle to extend her life after a cataclysmic brain injury.
And they were right, although it wasn’t something quite as abstract as divine intervention to save Missy Flynn following her traumatic brush with death late in 2005.
What it took wasn’t a village. It was a city of supporters, led by Flynn’s life partner, Brian Wong, along with countless friends from her days as a world-class triathlete and beyond.
So here we are, more than 16 years later, and the story remains awe-inspiring.
The odds against surviving an aneurysm are unlikely to begin with but to be able to still share laughs with contemporaries shows just how far she’s battled back from this life-changing misfortune.
Wong, who’s been by her side every step of the way, had spent the better part of a decade riding bicycles at high speeds beside the woman he loves. He knew all about her character when the infamous day arrived and figured if anybody could handle this adversity it would be her.
“The one thing I would say is we’re both incredibly stubborn and I mean that in a good way,’’ said Wong, who will once again bring Flynn to the 11th annual Bucks County Duathlon awards ceremony on Sunday, Sept. 4 at Washington Crossing Historic Park. Proceeds from the race go toward, among other things, her uninsured medical costs.
“She’s not stubborn in the sense of hard-headedness that is a negative characteristic. She would get up in the morning while it was still dark to go swimming. A lot of people wouldn’t do that but she did. That’s one side of stubborn. The other side is not giving up. That’s the side I feel more. You don’t give up and you keep that up for years.’’
Both close friends as well as people on the perimeter of Flynn’s life still marvel at her courage and fortitude.
You might as well include Wong, who shares a residence with Flynn in Newtown, in that group as well. Initial talks with doctors provided no roadmap to a successful recovery. There was no magic potion, no amazing surgery that was going to change her new life path.
It was pretty much up to her and her determination.
Wong credits that aforementioned city of well-wishers for sharing the day-to-day responsibilities.
“Given that everyone has gone through a pandemic for over two years, I think it really drives home the point that people are super devoted or dedicated or whatever word you want to use,’’ Wong said. “It’s not that people don’t forget us – which is not a given – because we’re not circulating around.
“For all this time, both pre-pandemic and through the pandemic, people are still doing the things that they do for us. They’re still making dinner, they’re still doing the yardwork, still doing errands, still picking stuff up.’’
The Bucks County Duathlon, which has raised upwards of $110,000 since its inception, does its part, too.
“The easy thing would be to just let it slide,’’ Wong said. “I wouldn’t blame anyone for that because it’s a ton of work. But here are, we have this sort of window after the worst of the pandemic hopefully is over. And the race is back.
“That encapsulates everything that people do for us. The people just don’t go away. That’s a remarkable thing because it’s been 16 years. That’s a long time for people to be hanging on for us.’’
BCD race day is always a red letter date for Flynn and Wong. They get a chance to renew old acquaintances and this year promises to be particularly exciting because there hasn’t been a BCD since 2019.
“She’s always excited to be at the race not only because it’s an event and one she used to do,’’ Wong said. “I’m sure she understands how much people are there to see her and are excited to see her. It’s one of our bigger days of the year.’’
To register, to get more information or to donate, visit www.buckscountyduathlon.org
Sunday, Sept. 4
11th annual Bucks County Duathlon, 7 a.m., Washington Crossing Historic Park. Contact www.buckscountyduathlon.org