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Reporter’s note: This is the first of a LebTown exclusive series on people involved in Art and the Arts in Lebanon County. As the veil of Covid-19 continues to lift, we are pleased to draw attention to this important segment of our local culture.

Our story begins at the end.

Katie Trainer, muralist, author of “What are the chances?”, and local art legend, sits and enjoys an early afternoon omelet with friends at Cedar Grill in Lebanon, while her car is being serviced. Her family will pick her up later. Katie’s afternoon will include a stop for an ice cream treat and some small animal petting at Patches Family Creamery in South Lebanon.

Katie at Cedar Grill in Lebanon.

All photos by Jack Cantwell.

“It doesn’t get any better than that,” she said with an infectious smile. It is a welcome change from the challenges of the last year.

Fast backward, just before we were all taken aback by the pandemic.

“I had a to-do list that included murals for Valley Animal Hospital, the Family First Health Center, and the new “Sun Pizza” mural in Campbelltown,” Trainer said.

Katie finishing up the Campbelltown Sun Pizza mural.

Read More: New “Sun Pizza” by Katie Trainer serves as welcome sign for Campbelltown

Katie continued, “then along came Covid-19 and a car accident that gave me a hip problem. I was slowed down but not stopped.”

Katie accepted an assignment to create murals on storefronts in downtown Lebanon, another project that garnered wide media attention, including another LebTown story.

Read More: Muralist Katie Trainer finishes unity mural in downtown Lebanon

“The message of ‘It Will Get Better’ struck a chord with people all over the world,” Trainer said. “It was picked up by local and national media, including USA Today. European news stations mistakenly used the photo in relation to the country of Lebanon after an explosion. It was amazing how many people saw that image.”

Facing her biggest challenge

Katie’s world came crashing down (no pun intended) when a bike rider crashed into Katie’s bike on Aug. 2, 2020, sending both riders sprawling.

“Adrenaline kicked in, and I felt no pain at that moment,” Katie said. “I asked the other biker if she was ok. Then, when I reached down to [pick] up my own bike, I found out I could not lift it. My right shoulder was broken.”

This was confirmed the next morning through X-rays at the Urgent Care in Ephrata.

What followed was a series of surgeries by Orthopedic Associates of Lancaster. A plate and eight screws were inserted to keep her shoulder in place.

Masked Katie shows off her shoulder incision.

“The pain was constant for over eight months,” Trainer said. “I could not use my right arm and had to become ambidextrous to keep working. I learned that I could paint better left-handed than I could write.”

The plate and pins are out, and it is making all the difference.

“I feel great now,” Trainer said, “but this last year has been really tough. So, I am taking a short break, with no commitments until I return.”

Katie’s book, “What are the chances?”

One positive in Katie’s life during this difficult year, was enjoying the literary success as a first-time author.

A car accident was just one of Katie’s hurdles in 2020.

“It took over eight years to write, and it was published in 2019,” Trainer said. “It was the hardest thing I ever did. Finally holding the published book in my hands was an amazing feeling of accomplishment. It has numerous five-star reviews on amazon.com, and that is humbling as well.”

The book documents the true, solo, cross-country travels of a young woman seeking passion and happiness and adventure. Was she ever fearful of being alone during her travels?

“Only once,” Trainer said. “I took a train from Las Vegas to LA. It arrived late, and I missed my ride. I spent the rest of the night awake, moving from one all-night restaurant to another. There were strange people in the restaurants and the streets. I ended up that morning on a beach in Santa Monica. Other than that, it was a wonderful adventure.”

Break time

Katie’s ‘short break’ will consist of a trip to Marathon Key in Florida to help a friend, Chris McCarthy, clean boat bottoms.

Katie holds up a lobster in the net at Marathon Key in Florida.

“I have done this before,” Trainer said. “I wear a wetsuit and snorkeling gear, get under the boat, and scrub away. Fish gather around and watch me work. It is an awesome experience. I hope to learn welding while I am visiting too.”

Chris owns a company, Obsessive Compulsive Divers (OCD) based in Marathon and Key West in Florida. Chris met Katie 11 years ago when they both happened to be hiking the Appalachian Trail at the same time.

What are the chances that we will be reading about another Katie Trainer accomplishment soon? It is a very good bet we will.

Katie sums it up this way, “I’m always looking for the next weird thing.”

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