NBC New York
Victoria Ruvolo was driving home one night in 2004 when a teenager threw a twenty pound frozen turkey through her windshield, nearly killing her. Today, Ruvolo has written a book about her recovery and what it means to forgive. Greg Cergol reports.
The Long Island woman nearly killed by a frozen turkey thrown through her windshield in 2004 has written a book about her experiences and the power of forgiveness.
"No Room for Vengeance" is Victoria Ruvolo's account of the ordeal that ended with the Lake Ronkonkoma woman seeking mercy for the teen responsible.
Ruvolo was driving home in November 2004 when a 20-pound turkey smashed into her car. It bent the steering wheel, then struck Ruvolo in the face.
Doctors were forced to wire shut her jaw and use metals to rebuild her face. Ruvolo, then 44, spent almost a month in the hospital.
High school student Ryan Cushing was arrested and charged with throwing the turkey. He faced up to 25 years in prison.
But Ruvolo lobbied Suffolk county's district attorney to give the teen a plea deal that required him to serve only six months in jail.
"Instead of making a snap decision, I wanted to know more," Ruvolo said. "I started asking questions. I wanted to know about this kid."
After a tearful Cushing pleaded guilty, Ruvolo hugged him in court and urged him to "do good with your life."
"I took him from being this terrible ogre and made him human. That's what we all need to do. Just take a step back," Ruvolo added
According to Ruvolo, Cushing has lived up to her order but now avoids the spotlight and is trying to move on with his life.
Ruvolo, on the other hand, has refused to run from the darkest days of her life. Each month for the past six years, she has discussed her ordeal with troubled kids at the Suffolk county probation department.
The TASTE program, as it is known, was designed by her co-author, psychologist Robert Goldman.
"Forgiveness is so hard to teach our youth and she is a role model for them," said Goldman.
Goldman hopes to bring "No Room for Vengeance" to schools across Long Island.
Seven years after she was nearly killed, Ruvolo's story of compassion still resonates.
She drew hugs and applause last week during a speech to an anger management class at the Sunshine Prevention Center in Port Jefferson Station.
"I have a lot of things to let go of myself," one mother said.
"When you let it go, you'll see how free you feel," responded Ruvolo.
"This woman is a very inspiring woman," said one of the teens in the audience. "I don't think anyone has the heart she has."
Ruvolo, however, insisted she's no saint -- just someone who learned watching her dad deal with the premature deaths of two sons.
"I truly feel God has given me a second chance at life and if my story can help another kid have a good life, what better gift is there?"
To learn more about Ruvolo, contact the Sunshine Prevention Center here.