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Crazylegs Horticulture team hits the pavement to support injured colleague

On October 26, 2007, Jim Busse, a USDA employee working in the Department of Horticulture, was biking home like any normal day. Jim, an avid biker and runner, had been training to participate in a marathon at Walt Disney World in Florida, in early January. He was only a few hundred feet from his condo when fate interceded. Jim stopped at an intersection as a van approached perpendicular to him. Thinking the van had seen him and was stopping for him, Jim started to cross the intersection. However, the van pulled out into traffic, pushing Jim out with him. Jim was hit by a vehicle and thrown into a yard, many feet away. What started out as a normal day turned into a lengthy ordeal.

Jim was taken to the hospital with multiple broken bones: a broken clavicle, six broken ribs, multiple vertebrae injured, a broken pelvis, and broken tibia and fibula. The one bright point was that having his helmet on, Jim did not sustain any brain injuries.

Jim endured several lengthy surgeries to repair his injuries. With his strong will and determination, he pushed to get his recovery going. A couple major setbacks along the way inhibited his goals of leaving the hospital sooner, but Jim, with the support of his parents, family, friends and co-workers, kept forging ahead, one small set at a time.

After spending over two months in the hospital, Jim was able to go home, but then still depended on constant care from his parents and almost daily trips to therapy to aid in his recovery.

As one can imagine, having that many injuries and the severity of them, left many people wondering how he would overcome them. But Jim Busse is a very driven person and had set goals for his return to work.

Trying to think of a way to honor Jim and get some exercise, Tricia Check, also a Department of Horticulture employee came up with the idea of organizing a team to participate in the 2008 Crazylegs Classic. A call was sent out for anyone with interest in “Jogging for Jim,” as the team event was called, to sign up for Crazylegs and participate in honor of a friend and co-worker. Special t-shirts were designed for the event, with more than 40 people responding.

Now, fast forward to April 26, 2008. It’s the 27th annual Crazylegs Classic, a rather cold and blustery day. More than 25 people gathered at the Capital square to support Jim by participating in the walk and run. The most spectacular news of the day was that Jim was actually there, with his parents and a few family friends, ready to walk in the 2-mile walk from the Capital to Camp Randal Stadium. Exactly six months to the day he was injured, Jim was there, walking without assistance, and proud of his accomplishments to this point. Jim finished the walk in about an hours’ time, crossing the finish line with smiles, as Jim normally is.

Jim hopes to return to the Department of Horticulture very soon, at least on a limited basis. We look forward to having him back, lucky to still have such a great person amongst our Horticulture family. Jim Busse is the epitome of strength, will, and determination. We are proud to call him a friend.

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