Oprah: Do only people who knew you before the attack know you're the Central Park jogger?
Central Park Jogger: Others know, too. It's not that I'm hiding something. But I want people to get to know me before they know my history and all the associations around it.
Oprah: Right, because that becomes a label.
Central Park Jogger: For me a lot of not telling also has to do with the head injury. When I was in the hospital, I heard a lot about what I wasn't going to be able to do. I read that I was permanently damaged.
Oprah: When you were dating your husband, how did you tell him you were the Central Park jogger?
Central Park Jogger: We met on a blind date six years ago, but before that we'd had several good talks on the phone. In one conversation I told him I had gone to Yale for business school, and he said, "I have a couple of friends from there." Apparently, he saw one of those friends later and asked her about me. She said, "Do you know who she is? She's the Central Park jogger." I was a little disappointed that she'd told him before I met him. I'd even asked the friend who set us up not to say anything about it. So on our date that evening when I told him who I was, he already knew.
Oprah: Earlier you said you've been transformed, yet I know the attack didn't suddenly turn you into an achiever—you graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Wellesley. So how, exactly, were you changed?
Central Park Jogger: What I mean is that I watched my body transform. I went from sitting in a wheelchair to running a marathon. The week before I left Gaylord hospital, a guy I didn't know FedExed his 1989 New York City Marathon medal to me. He said he had run the marathon a couple of times and had been injured, but he had run this one in my honor. I sat down and thought, "Holy cow—for a runner, that medal symbolizes so much hard work!" That medal still hangs in my house. So when I was able to run the marathon in 1995, I decided to pass on the medal I won.
Oprah: In the same spirit in which it was given to you.
Central Park Jogger: Yes.
Oprah: Do you remember what you felt when you crossed the finish line?
Central Park Jogger: I almost wanted to kiss the ground!
Oprah: It's a huge accomplishment. Do you have any physical limitations today?
Central Park Jogger: I still have some balance issues. And my vision is impaired and I've lost my sense of smell.
We Hear You!