Rachel Handler, of Linwood, is so determined to be an actress, she is back to performing just months after her left leg was amputated below the knee in an accident on the New Jersey Turnpike.

The 24-year-old Mainland Regional High School graduate, a lifelong dancer, was living in Queens and had just finished playing Snow White in a production at Nicu’s Spoon Theater in midtown Manhattan.

She had a fender-bender March 3 in Elizabeth, Union County, at a ramp onto the New Jersey Turnpike. She got out of her car to share her cell phone with the other driver, and a third car spun out of control and plowed into both of them at the guardrail. Handler immediately lost the bottom of her leg; the other woman suffered brain damage.

Handler grieved her loss during a month in the hospital, enduring surgeries and skin grafts. “By the time I got home, I had accepted it. It could have been a lot worse,” she said.

She walks with a prosthesis and will play Sylvie, a friend of the two leads, in a female version of “The Odd Couple” at the Ocean City Repertory Theater.

Handler plans to return to New York after mastering stairs. Meanwhile she is living with parents Michelle and Alan Handler. She finds inspiration from Aviva Drescher, on the TV show The Real Housewives of New York City, to whom she spoke while recovering.

“She has the same amputation as me,” Handler said. “It’s cool to watch her on TV, wearing high, high heels and running around the city.”

Historic backing

Joseph Wilkins’ self-published 2011 historical novel, “The Speaker Who Locked Up the House,” has now been endorsed by Donald A. Ritchie, the official historian of the U.S. Senate.

Ritche’s comments have been added to the back cover, said Wilkins, of Smithville in Galloway Township. Wilkins’ book is about Thomas B. Reed, the 1890 speaker of the House who undermined the power of former slave owners and white supremacists. It’s available on Kindle or by calling 800-722-0790.

Painting award

Deb Spinella, of May’s Landing, won first place for her pastel painting, “Over The Boardwalk” in The Ocean City Fine Arts League’s September “Night Life” show. Second place went to Marilyn Brent, of Linwood, for an oil painting “Steppin’ Out In NYC.”

Everyone Has a Story appears Sundays, Mondays and Wednesdays.

Contact Michelle Brunetti Post:

609-272-7219, MPost@pressofac.com