For 23-year-old Heather Beck, every day is a special gift.
"They did not expect me to live to be honest with you. This is great to be here today," Beck said.
That would be the Rochelle VFW, where friends and family honored her resilience and dedication in her life's most challenging hour. She spent three weeks in a coma after a horrific car accident on Route 38 broke her neck and took the life of her boyfriend Justin, but Heather defied the odds and defied death.
"I'm glad she could be with us, she's a very lucky girl," friend Angie Altepeter said.
Friends spent weeks selling raffle tickets and organizing Saturday’s benefit to help cover Heather's medical expenses, but even with love surrounding her, Heather still feels a void without Justin.
"Because he was my boyfriend, I love him, we were together for almost two years," Beck said.
And just months after her life-altering event, Heather is moving forward, improving every day and cherishing her newfound perspective on life and survival.
"I feel good. I feel good because I'm with my best friends and my family and my dad's side of the family as well," Beck said.
It’s a support system that goes far beyond the hospital walls.
Heather Beck is continuing to improve her speech and physical condition in therapy at Van Matre Health Center in Rockford where she attends three days a week.