Injured Soccer Player Receives Bev Kearney Texas Tough Award

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Just a few months after she was critically injured by a drunk driver in downtown Austin, UT soccer player and communications senior Kylie Doniak has something big to smile about.

At Monday’s 38th Annual Women’s Athletics Awards show at the Texas Performing Arts Center, Doniak was awarded the Beverly Kearney Texas Tough Award, which honors a UT student-athlete who possesses a fighting spirit and courageous heart.

“One thing I want to say is that the lady who is about to receive this award really makes me understand what Texas tough is,” Kearney said during the show, which was broadcast by Longhorn Network.

On Feb. 3, Doniak was crossing the intersection of Eighth and San Jacinto when a driver blew through a red light, striking her and two other pedestrians. Her injuries left her in a coma, with brain swelling and temporary paralysis.

Kylie Doniak

For track and field coach Kearney, Doniak’s situation hits very close to home. Kearney herself was in a tragic car accident in December 2002; two of her close friends were killed. Kearney suffered head and spinal cord injuries that paralyzed her below the waist—but she wasn’t kept down for long. Thanks to her famous perseverance and dedication, she was able to walk again.

Thankfully, Doniak is well on her way to a similar recovery. According to her sister’s journal on CaringBridge, Doniak is up and walking with the assistance of a cane and able to recognize every single one of her visitors.

Her short-term memory is an obstacle, though, and she’s often confused and can’t form sentences correctly. But, her sister writes: “We are so thankful that she has done so well so far, and we cannot wait to see the progress that she will continue to make.”

As her soccer teammates sat with wet eyes at Monday’s awards ceremony, Nicholas Colunga—the man accused of drunkenly colliding with Doniak in February—awaits his May 1 court date. He’s charged with four offenses, including aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and failure to stop and render aid. A previously set court appearance was postponed earlier this month to give both parties enough time to review the case.

Despite the delay, the top priority for Doniak’s family and friends is clear: help Kylie recover. As Doniak says in her filmed acceptance speech: “I’ll be back soon.”

Video courtesy Longhorn Network. Photos courtesy UT Athletics.

 

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