Your life can change in a moment, and no one knows that better than Noelle Lambert.
After a standout freshman lacrosse season at UMass Lowell, she was faced with a challenge no one saw coming.
“When I was laying there, I thought that my life was over. I thought that I would never be able to walk again, let alone play sports,” Lambert says.
Sports were her life. When it came time for college, she turned her focus to lacrosse.
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She says, “I mean, my freshman year, I had a breakout season. I started every single game. I was a leading point scorer. So, I was really excited for what my future was going to be at my school.”
That summer, Noelle went to Martha’s Vineyard and rented mopeds, and that is when everything changed.
“I had one of my teammates in the back with me, and we ended up colliding with a dump truck that was coming towards us…And I can tell you every single detail from that day. I was completely conscious,” she remembers, adding, “My leg was severed. I just remember looking down and seeing that my leg was gone and honestly just thinking that my life was over at that point.”
After reassurance from her head coach that her spot on the team wasn’t going anywhere, Noelle felt relief, but she was still unsure. “Obviously, I was still thinking that I was never going to play again but knowing that I had a community and a family to lean on, that was one of the most important things,” she says.
So, she started a new chapter.
“When I first received my walking prosthetic, I kind of had it in my head that I was going to receive a running blade,” she said, adding,” I was going to return to practice that next week. And that's when I learned about the cost of prosthetics and how expensive they are.”
After homework and applications, Noelle learned that a foundation was going to grant her a running blade. She spent the next summer re-learning how to run.
When she first returned to practice, she says she fell all the time and was self-conscious and timid, until her assistant coach gave her the push she needed.
“She stopped practice in front of everyone and started screaming at me saying…
if you don't want to be here right now, if you don't want to perform at the best that you can, you need to quit. And so from that day on, I started working with her before and after practice every single day,” she says, insisting, “She is one hundred percent the sole reason why I was able to return playing.”
The first game back was emotional; she says she received so much support from teammates and coaches. She went on to be successful but the end of lacrosse didn’t spell the end of her athletic career.
Lambert says, “The day lacrosse was over, I signed myself up for this track meet in Arizona. I had no idea what it was or who was going to be there. I just said, all right, I'm just going to show up and I'm going to do the best I can.”
But she didn’t just show up. “When the race was over, I realized that I had beaten the reigning national champion and that I had hit the qualifying times to be on the national team, my very first race.”
Now, her sights are on the Paralympic Games in Tokyo this summer. And, she is creating better lives for people like her with The Born to Run Foundation.
“The foundation and focus is on donating specialized prosthetics to younger adults and children that just want to live the life that they want,” Lambert says.
She wants to inspire people, too, saying, “I wanted to show people who go through difficult times and go through difficult moments and who are amputees that just because something like this happens to you, it doesn't mean your life is over.”
Watch the full interview with Noelle here.