Regina Yan: The Girl on Crutches

By Paula Mendoza | 10/19/15 8:27am

While most of us beamed with accomplishment after running 19 laps around the Homecoming bonfire, there was one exceptional champion of the night — Regina Yan ’19. Yan ran a whopping 119 laps… on crutches. Dubbed “Crutches Girl,” she captured the heart of onlookers with her determination and strength as she swung her way through ash and mud.
Yan tore her MCL while playing bubble ball soccer at the BEMA, which put her on crutches in the first place — she noted the false sense of security from running around in inflatable balls. As a competitive figure skater, she has also torn her MCL in sports-related injuries in the past.

When Yan texted her mom about her injury, her mom responded with a dry “lol.”

“I think she was expecting it to happen at some point,” Yan said with a laugh.

On the night of Homecoming, Yan helped light the bonfire, but had a mini-panic attack because she couldn’t find her crutches. Once they were located, Yan began her two-and-a-half-hour stunt. She realistically aimed to run 19 laps, and her optimistic goal was 50. But Lucas Bezerra ’16, who ran all the laps his freshman year, inspired her.

“You only have once chance to do this, so just go for it,” he said.

And from there, Yan was on a mission.

Amid the festive chaos, Yan said she was cautious about her surroundings and had to strategically place her crutches in the soggy ground to avoid slipping. Her motto for the evening was “don’t run into people and don’t get run over.”

In addition to the crowds of people cheering her on, some superstar individuals went above and beyond to support Yan. Bezerra gave her a piggyback ride for one of the laps. Her trip leader Shane Weisberg ’16, armed with food and water, cheered and helped count the last 30 laps. Evelyn Fernandez ’16 ran alongside Yan for one lap, and Matt Bough ’19, who had already finished all 119 laps, ran with Yan for her last 20 laps. That’s 139 laps. If that isn’t true friendship, I don’t know what is.

Once she completed her final steps, she hugged Weisberg and Bough and immediately fell to the ground in exhaustion. Next, she treated herself to celebratory pancakes at Collis Common Ground.

“The next day, I couldn’t move my arms and my hands were stuck in curved-C Lego positions because of how I was holding my crutches,” she said.Other battle scars included bruises under her arms and calluses on her hands.

When asked about her celebrity status, Yan said that she likes to keep a low profile.

“People know a crutches girl exists and that someone did it, but they don’t actually know my name or my face,” she said. “I’ve been able to fly under the radar, which is good for me because I’m personally scared of fame and being noticed. But it was something I did for myself and not for the attention.”

Humble and badass, this girl is the real deal. When recognized, Yan said she simply expresses her deep appreciation for everyone’s support — she attributed her morale and perseverance to the large amount of encouragement.

She disclosed that she wasn’t expecting such an eventful Homecoming bonfire.

“It turned out so much better than I would have ever imagined,” she said. “It’s definitely something I’ll look back on and remember. It was a great time.”

In the future, Yan hopes to complete other challenging Dartmouth traditions, including the Ledyard Challenge. The “Girl on Crutches” is on fire — try and keep up.

Paula Mendoza