LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11)- She spends her time helping others get in shape, using skills developed during some of her most difficult days. In this week's edition of our Five Questions series, we’re introducing you to a fitness instructor with a spirit stronger than any muscle.
It's no coincidence Sunrise Senior Living is full of sunshine, with the brightest rays beaming during Exercise Essentials
Ms. Mary Varga is in charge. It’s a natural fit seeing as she’s been a leader since birth.
"We were raised Catholic. So, my mother was always looking at the Catholic calendar, and I was born on one of the Mother Mary's feast days. So, that's how I got my name,” Mary said.
The countdown is always on in her class, but each and every click on the clock is a gift Mary didn't know she'd get.
"In 1997, I was going to a friend's party, which was just in the next neighborhood, with my baby in the backseat. We'd started through a stop sign, and a teenage boy just came zipping through a hill and t-boned my car,” Mary said. “Where I really see God’s hand in this is that I was in a neighborhood street, and an ER nurse just happened to be standing in his friend’s front yard. So, he witnessed my accident. He came running over, pulled my out of the car, and resuscitated me. I can tell you my grandmother’s phone number from when I was six, but new numbers and new people, I have to see them over and over again.”
The then 37-year-old marathon runner spent the next two months in a coma and the decades following in a slow, but steady recovery.
"I feel like I have a purpose again because after my accident, I lost so much. I lost my mobility, obviously. I lost my work. I lost my family, ultimately. I just feel like God has given it back to me in pieces,” Mary said.
Today, Mary is an example in exercise and excellence with a comeback career she never could've conceived.
"I started out in human resources, then I went to hospital marketing. Then, I went to pharmaceutical sales. Then, I had a brain injury. So, it took me three careers and a brain injury before I finally started doing what I love,” Mary said. "For so many years since I've been disabled, people have been constantly helping me. This is my way to give back. I don’t think most people wake up and look forward to going to their job every day, but I do. I really do. I just love my job. I mean, this is like a dream come true job. It’s just been so rewarding to do this.”
Her path of perseverance has been paved by persistence.
"Put your trust in God. Let God do it. The second best advice I've ever gotten is never give up,” Mary said.
Her monkey sidekick is a fan favorite, but it's another four-legged friend Mary would embody if given the chance.
"I'd like to be a horse because I like to move fast. I can't anymore, but I loved to move fast. I was a big runner. Galloping always seemed like it'd be a good thing for me to do,” Mary said.
She'll stick with being the head of the class, but she has a top task in mind if she took over the country.
"First thing I would do is find a first man. I mean, you can't have a president without a first man, right?" Mary said.
A brain injury can take away so much, but Mary chooses to look at how much it's given her instead.
"It shows how God has walked with me every step of the way as I've gone through this long tunnel of disability and brain injury and found so much joy along the way,” Mary said. “You know if I had to pick whether I had the brain injury or not, obviously I wouldn’t want to have the disabilities I have now, but because of my brain injury, I have been able to impact so many people’s lives, and I wouldn’t give that up for anything. I really wouldn’t.”
She continues to add new chapters to the story she never knew she'd tell.
"This is not the way I would've written my life if I could do it, but I feel like I'm doing the best with what God has left me with, and I plan on doing more,” Mary said.
GOT AN IDEA FOR FIVE QUESTIONS?
We want to hear from you! If you know somebody you think we need to profile for this series, please let us know. You can email Sara at firstname.lastname@example.org or find her on social media.
Facebook: Sara Wagner News
© 2018 WHAS-TV