Twenty years after receiving graduate degrees from Virginia Tech, Benjamin Toderico and Denise Gorondy-Toderico visited campus to both teach and continue to learn the power of Ut Prosim (That I May Serve).

“That motto is not just something you say every day, but a philosophy you carry with you during time at Virginia Tech and after graduation,” said Denise, who received an animal science degree in 1995 and a degree from the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine in 1999. “This incident has made it so that we focus on the positive. We focus on serving each other, serving our family, serving our community. It’s definitely had a profound effect on us.”

It’s been three years since “the incident,” when Denise, out for her Sunday morning run, was struck from behind by an SUV traveling at 60 mph. Denise lay in a field for more than an hour before she was found and flown to a trauma hospital. She spent the next 40 days in a hospital, and continues even now to recover from several strokes, traumatic brain injury, several broken vertebrae in her neck and back, and other orthopedic and internal traumas.

“When Denise left physical therapy, she was walking,” Benjamin said. “Now she’s running. She’s swimming. She can carry a 75-pound weight across the gym, and so she can carry our kids. It may not look the same, but we’ve learned that you can do whatever you want to do.”

Benjamin played an important role, using his expertise developed at Tech to develop nutritional strategies and exercise approaches for Denise that helped her build her physical capacity to augment her therapy.