Dottie Lessard Brownsberger, 48, of Reading, formerly of Haverhill, dies Sunday, Sept. 20.
She is survived by her husband Ben Brownsberger; son Liam; father David Lessard; rescue companion Barney; nieces Jenna Mason, Tanya Purdy and Jenna Brisson; adopted mom Linda Turner; sisters Fredia Torrence and Melissa Turner; and several other aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews, and close friends. Brownsberger was preceded in death by her mother, Beverly Lessard, and her sister, Linda Graham. Born with Cystic Fibrosis, she overcame all obstacles to receive a double lung transplant in 1994. With her new lungs she started competing in Tri-Fitness competitions against “able bodied” athletes. She went on to become a Gold Medal U.S. Transplant Olympic athlete and achieved her dream of becoming a Nike sponsored athlete, a runner. She was honored with carrying the Olympic Torch in Massachusetts in 2001 as she was again fighting another devastating illness causing her to receive a kidney transplant in 2002. She chronicled her life and journey in her book, “The Seven Letters That Saved My Life,” where she shared her advice for finding the sparks within to fulfill a life’s purpose. Her spirit and perseverance earned her accolades and articles in Ladies Home Journal, People Magazine and Success Magazine. Runner’s World Magazine honored her with its prestigious “Heroes of Running Award.” She has been acclaimed as one of Boston’s Exceptional Woman of the Year and Decade; Bryant Gumbel of HBO Real Sports Featured Dottie on his show after following her for two years. Her belief has been anyone can accomplish anything with a solid foundation based on her faith, health and wellness of the body and mind. She credited her courage and strength to her strong and unwavering faith in God and in recent years felt blessed by her close affiliation with Lakewood Church in Texas. Brownsberger has been a Certified Personal Trainer, Licensed Muscular Therapist and a Wellness and Empowerment Speaker and Coach.
A Celebration of her life took place Saturday. Interment was in Elmwood Cemetery, Bradford.