'You're a miracle, Jess': Waukesha parade victim, 11, dances just weeks after walking again
WAUKESHA, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Victims of the Waukesha parade attack continue to deal with the physical and emotional trauma of that day.
Eleven-year-old Jessalyn Torres was walking with her dance team, Xtreme Dance, when she was hit.
"She remembers turning around and being hit in the chest, but that's the last thing she remembers," said Amber Kohnke, Jessalyn's mom.
Jessalyn recently had her sixth surgery, five of them have been on her trachea. Doctors said before her latest surgery that her trachea was closed off 80 percent, meaning she was breathing through less than a straw. Still, 24 hours after that surgery, and just weeks after re-learning to walk, Torres was back on the dance floor.
"This amount of accomplishment in such a short time has been just amazing," gleamed Jessalyn's mom after she danced.
Jessalyn danced a duet with her best friend, who couldn't hold back tears as she danced alongside Jessalyn.
"I gave her a kiss on the cheek because she was wiping her tears and I didn't want her to mess up her makeup," said Jessalyn afterwards.
"You're a miracle, Jess," the announcer said as Torres walked off the dance floor.
Dancing wasn't even the biggest hurdle Jessalyn faced over the last four months. We sat down with Jessalyn and her mom ahead of her return to the dance floor to talk about the long road of recovery she's had since that November day that changed her life.
Jessalyn suffered a broken pelvis in three places, internal bleeding, a fractured skull and she lost a kidney.
"She wants to be normal, she wants to be 11 years old," said Amber Kohnke.
She often spends the entire day in physical therapy. It's the small childhood things she misses most, like recess and sleepovers with her cousins. Her family is slowly getting into a routine of their new life.
"They live where I would have to walk upstairs, and I got the OK to do stairs. And so I got to have a sleepover, which I did a lot before this whole thing," said Jessalyn.
The last four months have been hard, but the family always finds ways and reasons to laugh.
"PT is hard, we're working muscles that we used to work that we haven't been able to, and there's mental breakdowns and there's days when we need to cry and be frustrated and I get it, and I'll be by her side," said Kohnke.
Jessalyn is also working through emotional stress.
"Think I've gotten through a lot of trauma or anxiety of being downtown," she said.
She's now been downtown twice, and she says she's ready to spend more time in the place she has more good memories than bad.
"I really like being downtown," she said. "I think it's really pretty down there. In the summer, me and my siblings would ride our bikes down there."
As of now, Jessalyn doesn't know whether she'll need another surgery on her trachea.