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Getting Back on my Feet and in my Running Shoes

March 06, 2014

By: Nicole Bjanes, Server, Seasons 52

Getting Back on my Feet and in my Running Shoes

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I knew I had a long journey to recovery ahead of me, but I had two goals that kept me motivated throughout the healing process. I really wanted to get back to work and get back to running. I’ve worked for the Darden family of restaurants for almost 20 years, starting at Red Lobster and also working at Bahama Breeze along the way. I’ve also worked at various Seasons 52 restaurants, and I’m currently at the Seasons 52 restaurant in Orlando, Florida.

I owe a huge amount of gratitude to my coworkers for the support they showed me after my accident. My restaurant even held a community fundraiser for me. I am so humbled that so many of my colleagues got involved in the planning and fundraising, and other restaurants in the area showed their support and donated. I was also a recipient of Darden Dimes, a program at Darden that allows us to donate at least 10 cents from each paycheck to the Darden Dimes fund to help our fellow colleagues when we face severe medical emergencies, natural disasters or personal hardships.

Three months after the accident and nine weeks ahead of schedule, I was able to get my cast off and rods removed. Soon after, I was able to return to work. Now that I was back at work, I could focus on my other goal: to get back to running. Since I started working at the Seasons 52 restaurant in Orlando, I loved participating in the annual Seasons 5.2k race in Winter Park, Florida. I enjoy being part of the Orlando community, and this race, which is sponsored by Seasons 52, benefits the area and is a great way to get involved with my coworkers. I get to see all my peers, who turn out for the event, and it’s a fun way for us to spend time together outside of the restaurant.

Earlier this year, I got to participate in my first race since the accident, just six months after it occurred! I specifically wanted my first race back to be the Seasons 5.2k to support the company that had supported me so much the past few months. My goal was to run the 5.2 kilometers in 40 minutes. I ended up finishing in about 38 minutes, and I was able to run the entire time. One of my coworkers ran by my side the whole way.

It’s still surreal to look back at everything that has happened, and I feel so lucky to have received so much support from my community and the Darden family. I’ve always been proud to work for Darden and I am so grateful to have their support. Seven months ago, doctors weren’t sure how well I would be walking right now, and I was just able to run more than three miles.

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