Great white shark attack survivor paying it forward to community

SAN CLEMENTE, Calif. (KGTV) -- A mother of three, nearly killed when a great white shark bit her in April, is paying it forward after countless people donated tens of thousands of dollars to help with her medical bill and living expenses while she recovers.

Leeanne Ericson of Vista was the guest bartender Monday evening at Cassano’s in San Clemente.

It was originally a fundraiser for Ericson. She decided to give the night’s donations to the Torrey Pines Surf Ministry which takes Wounded Warriors, and others with physical disabilities, surfing.

Ericson lost much of her right thigh when the shark bit her April 29.

“Leeanne was out swimming while I surfed, and a great white, mistaken identity, though she was a sea lion and took her instead,” her boyfriend Dusty Phillips said.

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Phillips says they were 75 yards from shore at San Onofre State Beach when the shark bit Ericson.

Phillips brought Ericson to shore on his surfboard. She was airlifted to Scripps La Jolla hospital.

Now, Ericson walks with a full leg brace.

“I don’t have feeling in my foot, but what I do have I left of my muscle on my leg, I’m working to get it stronger, and my knee stronger and my ankles, so I can walk without all of this, with just the bottom of the brace,” Ericson said.

But Ericson said she does not want the story to be about her. She wants it to be about everyone who helped her, including Torrey Pines Surf Ministry.

“They made me a really beautiful quilt when I was in the hospital,” Ericson said. “The fundraisers bring a lot of faith back in humanity, that people do care about each other,” Phillips said.

For the full story watch the video above.

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