Earthquake Survivor Wants to Give Back to Rescuers

Christa Brelsford was one of the first people airlifted from Haiti to Miami

By Todd Wright
|  Thursday, Jun 30, 2011  |  Updated 10:12 AM EDT
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Alaskan college student escaped death in the Haiti earthquake thanks to a Haitian teen.

Alaskan college student escaped death in the Haiti earthquake thanks to a Haitian teen.

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Christa Brelsford lost her leg during in the Jan. 12 earthquake in Haiti, but she could have lost a lot more if not for two Haitian young men she befriended.

Brelsford said one of the young men stayed up with her all night in the darkness of Port-au-Prince to make sure she didn't fall asleep and to help distract her from the pain of her crushed right leg. He told her stories and said he had a dream that one day he would graduate college.

Now, it's time for pay back, said Brelsford, who was released from Jackson Memorial Hospital on Wednesday.

The 25-year-old Alaska native has started a foundation called Christa's Angels in tribute to her rescuers, who are still suffering in their ravaged homeland.

The goal of the foundation is to give raise money to help the island nation recover from the natural disaster, but equally important for Brelsford is to get the 18-year-old who helped dig her out of the rubble a college scholarship.

Brelsford became one of the first people airlifted from the carnage in Haiti to Miami.

"I want to give back to the people who saved my life three times over," she said.

Brelsford still faces challenges of her own in the states. The PHD student at Arizona State has to learn to use a prosthetic limb and adjust to life without her leg. Doctors said the adjustment should be smooth and Brelsford should be able to lead a full, normal life despite the setback.

Brelsford hasn't complained and she said she never will. Her obstacles pale in comparison to what her rescuers and the rest of Haiti have to face moving forward, she said.

"I expect it to be a challenge," Brelsford said. "But it's temporary and I am thankful for that."

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