On the 1-year anniversary of a dump truck slamming into her car near an icy railroad crossing, Bev Rella was contemplating life. She had recovered from five surgeries to remove glass and debris from her body and put her bones back together. She was back to work, but all was not well.“I had a nagging sense that this accident was a catalyst,” she said. “I said to God, ‘I don’t know what this accident means.’”
Later that day, she found out her marriage of 10 years was over. Dec. 5, 1998, was the day she truly realized that life – the good days and bad days – teaches us a lot of lessons.
Bev, then 34, and a vice president of treasury management at Fifth Third Bank, was driving to Indianapolis from Bloomington, Ind. after a meeting. It was the first real snow of the season and temperatures were dropping.
“I had this sense of foreshadowing,” she remembers. “I kept thinking the roads are going to ice quickly. I don’t want to take (Ind.) 37 because of the dump trucks and the quarries.”
Traffic was unusually busy early afternoon. The interstate was clogged, and she was trying to figure out where she could turn around. She approached the railroad tracks near a coal station. A train was coming, but the train warning light was not on.
“The car in front of me went across. I had time to go across,” she said. “I didn’t want to stop and slide, so I went over. A dump truck was coming south toward me, he slammed on his brakes and spun. Then all I see is steel.”
The engine block came through the driver’s side of her car. Her seat belt was on, her airbag worked, but caused all of the force to go to her leg. She spent three weeks in the hospital, mostly in the transplant unit as a muscle from her back was attached to her leg.
It was a rough recovery, and she learned the power of vulnerability. She learned the power of friendship.
“Close friends got closer. Acquaintances became lifelong friends. Old friends reconnected,” she said. “I learned it’s OK to be vulnerable and let people take care of you.”
Things do happen for a reason. She was back to work six months later, and a long-time client, Rich, took her to lunch. They talked about the accident and recovery. They talked business. They talked about their divorces. That lunch turned into more lunches and then dates, and then two years later, they were married.
“I’ve now been married to the love of my life for 18 years,” Bev says, still smitten as a schoolgirl. They split their time between a home in Indianapolis and one in Scottsdale, Ariz.
Bev’s story doesn’t end with true love. That was just the beginning.
Bev has devoted her career to helping others. She spent nearly a decade helping companies get smarter with money. She helped a start-up non-profit get off the ground. She raised money for an urban college prep school. She loved it all. She also knew she wanted to follow her true passion. She loved cooking, wanted to be healthier, eat more veggies, interested in the human body, And was definitely a work out person.
She got another jolt in 2015, when her health hit rock bottom. She had cramps, nausea, was exhausted all the time and felt weak.
“I really didn’t know what was physically happening to me or how to prevent it from happening again,” she said. “The experience was scary and frustrating, and I felt defeated.”
Her doctor wanted to prescribe a pill to ease her symptoms.
“I didn't want to start the pill parade,” she said. “I finally got better when I humbly asked a friend who was a nutrition coach to help me. And with her help, I began to name the problem and start to heal.
Something clicked, as she began to talk to her friend, followed her advice and started feeling better. Bev wanted to help people get healthy, too.
Not long after, she enrolled at a Nutritional Therapy Institute to learn all she could about nutrition and wellness. In 2019, at the age of 56, she became a certified nutrition therapist and started her own company, BAR Wellness, www.barwellness.net.
It’s been 23 years since that horrible accident, which changed her life the first time.
“I can’t run, jump, or wear high heels,” she says. “But life is great.”
It’s made her realize, things really do happen for a reason.