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I CAN STILL DO IT! The Unstoppable Spirit of a Plane Crash Survivor

Robert D Reed Publishers

I CAN STILL DO IT! The Unstoppable Spirit of a Plane Crash Survivor

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The Unstoppable Spirit of a Plane Crash Survivor


Pilots rarely survive small-plane crashes. Karen Trolan, a real estate manager in the San Francisco Bay Area and mother of three, was piloting her family’s Cessna out of the Truckee airport near Lake Tahoe on Labor Day Weekend eight years ago when the plane crashed. In a moment, her life changed. Karen became a paraplegic.
            This is a story of one woman’s courage and determination as she navigated multiple injuries in her brain, neck, lung, spine, ribs, and a number of bones, requiring months of hospitalization and rehabilitation. It’s a forthright—no holds barred—account of enduring the helplessness that comes from being wheelchair-bound and the ways that Karen and her family knitted together a plan not just to live but to thrive.
            It’s a tale of trauma and its antidote: the creation of regimens of physical therapy, medical treatments, adaptive sports, and travel to recapture the joys of Karen’s earlier life, buttressed by her Christian faith and her husband’s dedicated support.
            Karen calls her journey one of “pushing through” adversity. She credits her upbringing by parents who instilled a “can do” mentality in her and her brother for her positive attitude. She feels that her previous athleticism also contributed to her discipline and desire to return to the sports she loved: snow and water skiing, horseback riding, swimming, cycling, and kayaking. Today, she does all of these with the help of her husband, who muscles her into kayaks and gondola lifts, into airplane bathrooms, and onto the backs of horses. Another difference from her earlier days is the greater expense of life and equipment for adaptive use in both daily activities and sports. The family recognizes its good fortune in having opportunities for her activities and special treatments.
            “The ability to give back to others by helping and teaching also inspires me to work hard every day on my core strength,” says Karen. She is grateful that she was able to return to every one of the teaching and mentoring roles in the work world and her volunteer activities before the crash. “By inviting me back to the Ski Patrol at Northstar and the Disaster Aid Response Team in Los Gatos, as well as to my coaching activities with my kids’ sports, those organizations helped me to feel myself again,” she says. “And, given the opportunity to work part time allowed me to get back on track quickly.”

What Others Have to Say about Karen Trolan and this Book, I CAN STILL DO IT!

Life Is What You Make of It.

Absolutely amazing, Karen’s story from the accident to where she is today is truly inspiring.  Every challenge that was thrown her way has been overshadowed by her accomplishments. Her dedication to family and God proves to all of us that LIFE is what you make of it. ~ Vince Arthur, Director of Base Area Operations, Heavenly Mountain Resort

 A Horrifying Crash… Amazing Lady!

Karen Trolan is a fighter, survivor, teacher and friend. After a horrifying crash she continues to define courage and passion and has the ability to change people’s lives with her will power and love. Amazing lady!  ~ Jeff Barnett, VP & REGIONAL MANAGER, Alain Pinel Realtors®, Los Gatos, CA, CAR Director for Life, NAR Hall of Fame, Realtor® of the Year 1998 & 2008

If There's a Will, There's a Way.

This is an amazing story of a beautiful young woman who was tragically disabled in a plane crash. Her injuries have taken the use of her legs. For most of us, we would be devastated with being confined to activities sitting in a wheelchair. But this is the story of an incredible woman whom I’ve had the honor and pleasure of meeting because of her love for the martial arts. That's right—martial arts—and that's just the beginning. Try water skiing, snow skiing, snorkeling, and countless other activities that even people with full use of all their limbs have a hard time with. But Karen masters them easily; it's her determination and her never-give-up spirit. As a martial arts instructor for over 30 years, I've never seen anyone like her. When she found out that I taught Tango dancing, jokingly I asked her if she'd like to learn. She looked me straight in the eye and said, “Get me out of this chair; let's dance,” and she had her first tango lesson. This book is an incredibly inspiring story of a never-give-up spirit that lives in all of us. I suggest you read this wonderful book.~ Grandmaster Mark Thomas Gerry, eight-time Martial Arts Hall of Famer, West Coast Grand Champion, Master Instructor to the Stars, Action film and TV actor, director and producer

 Double Down on Determination

By nature, people are pessimistic, even in the most optimistic of positions.  I have never known anyone with more grit and enthusiasm for life than Karen.  Her disabling circumstances have only pushed her to double down on her determination to succeed at everything she desires to do.  Her authentic insights will richly bless those who read her story. ~ Mike Hulme, President of Alain Pinel Realtors

Captivating Journey

Karen is uniquely gifted with determination and grace, to not just live but to thrive and to inspire all those around her.  Now her story will bring hope and inspiration to the thousands that read her captivating journey following a life-changing plane crash~ Mark Keirstead, Co-Founder and Executive Director of One Step Closer Therapeutic Riding

 Encourages Us All

A brave friend and student, Martial Artist Karen Trolan was a pilot of a small plane and in a plane crash. Her horrific injuries included paraplegia, but she had faith and never gave up hope. Her inspiring story encourages us all that we can do it. The author addresses the determination, stamina, courage and compassion of oneself facing a life-threatening condition. A definite read.  ~ Samuel Kwok, Grandmaster Wing Chun, Qi Gong, Instructor, Author of TRADITIONAL WOODEN DUMMY and MASTERING WING CHUN

Persistence and Grit

When I first worked with Karen on horseback in an arena at a therapeutic riding center after her accident, I pointed to a trail high on a hill and said “If you work hard at this, we’ll be riding up there someday.”  She and her husband now own horses of their own, plus a truck and trailer, and they camp and ride on many such trails in beautiful parks throughout California. Persistence and grit. Karen personifies both. ~ Niki Lamb

 Recommending this Book to Every Patient

Inspirational!!! This book shows the power of faith, determination, and the importance of taking personal accountability for one’s decisions in how to live his/her life. I’m recommending this book to every patient of mine and anyone who has encountered a setback and wants to turn it into a comeback!  ~ Dr. James Lu, PT, DPT, LAc, Dipl. OM, OCS, MTC, CSAS 

Inspirational Journey of Hope and Grit

For close to 20 years I have had the privilege of knowing and working with Karen Trolan in the crazy world of California real estate. Compared to the rest of us mere mortals, Karen is a nova that never dims – she has always done more in less time (and generally with more heart) than anyone I have ever known. 

Karen’s love for skiing and flying led to a horrific accident that could have destroyed her life; however, it only served to strengthen her resolve to be the best wife, mother, REALTOR® and ultimately the best person that any of us could ever hope to be. The determination and love in the Trolan family is a wonder to behold. Karen’s book is an inspirational journey of hope and grit – like Karen it stands as a testament to everyone that we should never give up on our dreams simply because of a nightmare. I CAN STILL DO IT! is a must read for anyone who needs a role model to guide them along a difficult life path.     ~ Victoria B. Naidorf, J.D., Broker Risk Management

 An Inspiration in My Life

Karen’s return to our patrol team has truly been an inspiration in my life. After two decades of professional ski patrolling I have seldom witnessed the courage and strength that she brings to the mountain every time she puts on her cross. From the summit of Mt. Pluto to greeting our guests at mid mountain, she embodies the true spirit of what it means to be a patroller~ Forrest Philpot, Northstar California Ski Patrol Director

 Never Giving Up

Yep, it's a great story about life and passion and never giving up. Inspirational.  ~ Shihanke Russ Rhodes, 10th Degree Black Belt (head of system), Martial Arts Instructor, plus four other Black Belts

A Warrior, an Inspiration, and a Hero

Karen Trolan is one of the most amazing women I have ever met.  She is a warrior, an inspiration, and a hero. By reading her book we can all learn about overcoming the impossible, through faith and endurance. I love this woman for who she is and what she has accomplished. Her book, I CAN STILL DO IT! is an inspirational must-read.   ~ Cynthia Rothrock, Action Film Star (55 credits) and Producer (7 credits), Martial Arts Instructor (5 Black Belts), Inducted into the Black Belt Hall of Fame, Inside Kung-Fu Hall of Fame, and the International Sports Hall of Fame

 Failure Is Not an Option

A story of triumph out of tragedy. One woman’s incredible story of overcoming personal injury to rise victorious. This is a must-read book when failure is not an option. Her story is inspiring. ~ Dr. Marc Stoner, Master in Martial Arts

Courage and Tenacity

Karen is tenacious and has an amazing human spirit. She has worked through her challenges and prevailed. She is the same positive and active person I have known for nearly forty years. Observing Karen on a personal level after the accident, I saw this was not an easy process, yet she fought through the pain and all the medical setbacks. If you desire inspiration and need encouragement to get through the day, this is the book for you. Let Karen’s journey help you improve your life and show you how to be active while living life to its fullest. She is inspirational to all of us at any level, proving the human spirit is stronger than the physical. 

Every time I talk to Karen I am inspired and empowered. Her courage and tenacity are contagious. Her book will improve your life no matter your situation.  ~ Holly Vargas

 Creating Happy Memories Is a Choice.

Karen Trolan’s personal story of courage, resilience, and patience will resonate with anyone who has come up against seemingly insurmountable challenges and wondered “Can I go on”? The answer is a resounding Yes. With love, gratitude, and faith, Karen shows that every experience is an opportunity to learn and that creating happy memories is a choice. Inspiring.  ~ Leslie Appleton-Young, C.A.R. Senior Economist



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