May 25 • 11:22 PM

Real life drama,fairy tale ending

After surviving near-fatal accident, love blooms for couple who faced it together

July 16, 2008
ALMONT — Six years ago Doni Hoffa wasn't sure if she'd be able to walk across a room, much less down the aisle.

In May of 2002, 17-year-old Doni was lucky just to be alive, recovering from a severe closed head injury after being struck by a car while jogging on Scotch Settlement Road on a Sunday evening. The Almont High School athlete and cheerleader was accompanied by friend Michael Flinn.

Today, the jogging partner who witnessed the horror as Doni was thrown into the driver's windshield before landing in a ditch is ready to become her partner in life and take Doni down the aisle this Friday at St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church in Allenton.

Michael Flinn and Doni Hoffa made it through a tragic accident and miraculous recovery to make a trip down the aisle this Friday.
The terrifying event, which made local headlines for weeks, ended up cementing the relationship and shaping the lives of a couple who worked hard to beat the odds.

"There were some scary moments," says Christine Flinn, Michael's mom. "We weren't sure if Doni would pull through the ordeal. But it ended up bringing them closer together."

With her family and friends by her side, Doni pulled through a coma and spent almost a month in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at Hurley Medical Center.

When she began rehabilitation, Doni had to learn how to eat on her own, stand, walk, and talk above a whisper.

The determined teen spent months getting back on track, progressing one step at a time toward recovery. Michael was there every step of the way, Christine says.

"They totally grew up after the accident," she says. "They were no longer children, they were adults. You could see that in the hospital and all through the rehabilitation and after Doni went home. Their relationship just grew daily."

So did Doni's aspirations. After her experience in Hurley's pediatric unit, she decided to pursue a career in nursing—something that never occurred to her before the accident. Just as she overcame the trauma and physical difficulties of a closed head injury, Doni tackled higher education with a vengence. In December of 2007 she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing from Oakland University, and is now employed at University of Michigan Hospital's Pediatric Thoracic Intensive Care Unit.

"It's so wonderful it just kind of gives you the chills. She loves it there, she loves working with children," said Christine.

Michael, too, earned a degree in elementary education from Oakland University. The 28-year-old is employed as a first grade teacher at Lakeside Elementary School in Orange Park, Florida.

The Flinns are thrilled to formally welcome Doni and her family into their own, Christine says, noting that they've been close for years.

"Doni has felt like a daughter from the time of the accident," Christine says. "And that's when I really got to know her family, we all became closer and have felt like family forever. This wedding solidifies what has really been a part of our family for years."

Christine said Doni's recovery was nothing short of a miracle, and she's excited that she and Michael will start on another new path together.

"It is amazing how such a tragic event shaped their careers and solidified their relationship," Christine says.

Doni, 23, is the eldest daughter of Steve and Peggy Hoffa of Almont Twp. She has two sisters—Jodi and Coli—and a brother Adam.

Michael, 28, is the youngest son of Christine and Eric Flinn, also of Almont Township. His brother's name is Robert.

In lieu of individual wedding favors for guests at Friday's nuptuals, Doni and Michael plan to make a donation to Children's Miracle Network of the Hurley Foundation.

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