Shauna Pender Vetrano

Two weeks after being crowned Miss Florida in 2003, Shauna Pender Vetrano traveled to Miami for a charity event. On her way there during rush-hour traffic, a semi-trailer truck carrying avocados swerved and toppled over onto the car in which Shauna was a passenger.

Shauna, then 24, was pried out of the car by firefighters. They rushed her to Ryder Trauma Center and many people believed she would not survive.

In addition to suffering a stroke, Shauna had a torn aorta, numerous broken bones and a paralyzed vocal cord. During her two months as a patient at Ryder Trauma, Shauna underwent a dozen surgeries. Even after leaving the hospital, she required intense rehabilitation and physical therapy.

The crash dramatically altered Shauna’s career path.

“Everyone at Ryder Trauma Center was amazing,. Had this happened anywhere else, I would be dead. I know that for a fact.”

Shauna Pender Vetrano

She dreamed of becoming an actress on Broadway, but the damage to her voice made that physically impossible.

Instead, she has used her story of survival to motivate others.

Shauna is married, has a two year-old daughter, Charlotte, and lives in New York City. She works part-time as a brand ambassador for several automotive teams. She continues volunteering for the Miss America organization, specifically in Florida and New York.

In addition to the unending support of her family and friends, Shauna credits her survival to the medical team that cared for her.