— TODAY (@TODAYshow) October 28, 2021
Marion Hedges' life changed forever 10 years ago, when she was seriously injured by a falling shopping cart.
On Oct. 30, 2011, Hedges and her young son were out at a Harlem, New York shopping mall to buy candy to give to children in need, according to Today, whose Sheinelle Jones sat down with Hedges for an exclusive interview on Thursday.
However, while returning to her car, the mother of two was hit on the head by a shopping cart, which was pushed over the fourth floor guard rail by a group of teens, according to a post on her charity's website.
"I broke all my ribs and my collarbones, and my heart stopped beating," Hedges, who also suffered a traumatic brain injury, told Today.
Despite what happened that day, Hedges — who still suffers from double vision, memory loss and PTSD — says she feels like "the luckiest unlucky lady in the world."
"I survived being dead that day," she told Today. "I don't know why I survived, but I choose to make the most every day."
The mother of two, who has long had a deep love of Halloween and giving back, came up with the idea to start a new charity while participating in an outpatient rehabilitation program at Mt. Sinai Hospital.
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Now, she's launching Sweet Returns, which aims to help young boys and girls through after-school programs, mentoring, educational support and more.
"Marion fought hard to regain the mental abilities she lost in 2011. Against all odds, she devised a plan to turn adversity into inspiration; a call to action," reads a post on the charity's website. "Marion decided she would create a new start for herself while impacting the lives of teens who are often forgotten: those who are too old for youth programs, yet are still too young for college, work or a career."
"Like the teens who threw the shopping cart, many young teens are stuck in the middle or are left behind, but are crying out for support, guidance and structure," the post continued.
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Opening up about her new charity, Hedges, now 57, told The New York Post that "it's an opportunity to turn something bitter into something sweet."
"The reality is, they have a big future, and it can be really squashed by any choice they make. This is about good decisions," she told the outlet.
"The boys who threw the shopping cart on me did not make a good decision. It really destroyed their lives and, while I refuse to say it destroyed my life, it did change my life forever," she added. "Those kids needed someone to give them guidance on being healthy young adults."
The two boys who pushed the cart over the rail pleaded guilty to assault in 2012, and each were sented to less than two years in juvenile facilities, according to Today.
Although Hedges said they have never reached out to her, she's not holding onto any negativity.
"I don't think about forgiveness because forgiveness means that I had a negative energy [to] begin with," she told Today, noting that ultimately she just hopes "those young boys can find something to do to make a difference."