Abbotsford mom Julie Barr, who recently lost a leg, fingers and toes to a life-threatening infection, was floored when she saw the crowd gathered at a roller derby fundraiser in her honour on Saturday.
"It's almost difficult to take in. I'm not used to being in the spotlight," said Barr,a.k.a Sheila Hurt-U to her Chilliwack VooDoo Derby Dollz teammates.
"I almost feel undeserving. I'm doing the best I can to get better."
The roller derby fundraiser at the Ag-Rec building organized by the Dollz, and supported by clubs and enthusiasts from all over province, has already raised close to $20,000.
The money will help adapt Barr's home and car to make them wheelchair accessible and pay for equipment and prosthetics she'll need to get around.
On Nov. 17, the 36-year-old mother of two was rushed to hospital after contracting an A streptococcal infection.
Within a 24-hour period, the disease had forced her onto life support and then into an induced coma for two weeks.
After coming round, Barr found the circulation to her limbs had been compromised, and on Dec. 21 doctors were forced to amputate her left leg mid-calf.
Four of her fingers on her left hand and all her remaining toes have blackened and cannot be saved.
But Barr isn't concentrating on her losses, only on what she's managed to hang on to.
"I'm still here for my children, husband, parents . . . It could be worse," she said.
"The doctor told my parents I was dying and I had a one per cent chance of living."
Dollz captain Melissa Saumur, or Spanky Spitfire, a driving force behind the fundraiser, can't fathom the bravery her friend has demonstrated.
"She's amazing. She's just so strong. So strong," said Saumur, choking back tears.
"It's terrible to lose a limb when you're that active. But I don't think she sees it as losing a limb, but keeping a life."
Barr, still in hospital but in stable condition, says her main focus now is to get home to her husband, Mike, and daughters Mackenzie, 10, and Hayley, 5, and regain her strength and independence.
The roller derby world helped absorb the blows her infection has doled out, said Barr.
"Without the derby community, [the fundraiser] and all the support wouldn't have happened," she said.
"Melissa worked hundreds of hours."
Barr doesn't foresee strapping on a pair of skates again but she plans to become a derby official.
She's not being brave but simply trying to embrace the positive, said Barr.
"It's harder for everybody if I don't," she said.
"Now I can take my motorized scooter into Walmart and start knocking things over," she joked.
"I'll also have a wheelchair parking pass, who doesn't want that?"
For more information visit www.facebook.com/VoodooDerbyDollz.
-with a file from Stephanie Ip, The Province.