That's right, 14 years. In 2000, at the completion of a cross-country training run through the Sierra Nevadas, Heather took the traditional 50-foot celebratory cliff-leap into Lake Tahoe and it went badly.
She landed awkwardly, suffered compression fractures of her back and neck, was airlifted to a hospital and spent four months in a body cast. Gone was her career as a competitive track and field athlete.
USC honored her scholarship, but she abandoned her running career, turned to communication and now is an author of children's books.
Howell ran in order to raise support and awareness for human trafficking. She is affiliated with "Run for Hope" and ran for two shelters located in Southern California: one is a 72-hour rescue center, and the other a long-term rehabilitation and restoration program that provides for intense counseling, medical and legal needs of victims, as well as GED and job search.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.