She danced at the Krewe of ALLA ball on Feb. 9, then tossed beads from one of its parade floats last Sunday.
Sounds like typical Mardi Gras activities. But for Shannon Land Martz, those were major milestones in a long road to recovery after being injured by a drunk driver two years ago.
And she wasn't just going to a ball or riding in a parade. Martz reigned as Queen ALLA LXXXVII.
Founded in 1932, the Krewe of ALLA (Krewe for All) began as an all-male krewe. In 2014, it went coed.
“As soon as I heard that, I contacted then-krewe President Adam Strickland immediately,” said Martz. “It was awesome riding in my first parade. I was the only woman on my float.
“It felt a bit mischievous because I was a girl,” she added with a laugh. “For 82 years, there were no women members. It was fun to be one of the first. Five years later, I’m queen.”
Her near-death experience made her reign even more special. Still battling back after the incident, she didn't hesitate to say yes when the krewe asked her to be its 88th queen.
“I felt like I was being handed a little gift. I was going to make it work somehow,” said Martz, a New Orleans native who now calls the Baton Rouge area home.
Martz was injured in 2017, when she and Jason, her husband of almost 20 years, were headed back from Houston after attending the Zydeco Festival. While there, they also helped man a tent recruiting krewe members. On the way home, they stopped for coffee. While her husband was inside placing their order, Martz said she went back outside to get something out of the back of his truck.
“I was about to let the tailgate down when this Mercedes coach van hit me and pinned me between it and the truck,” said Martz. “The guy didn’t even know he’d hit me; he was drunk. Jason saw it and saved my life.”
Nothing was broken but Martz said she had severe internal bleeding and bruising, from her rib cage to her thighs.
“Actually, my doctor said it would have easier if I had broken something instead of all the internal injuries. I was on bed rest for four months — 24 hours laying on one side of my body,” she said. “I basically had to learn to walk all over again. I went from the bed to a wheelchair to a walker. Sometimes I still need a cane to get around … They came up with a special contraption on my float so I could stand for the parade. Believe it or not, sitting is actually worse for me than standing.”
She credited Stephen Jackson at Dutchtown Physical Therapy, with whom she continues to work, with her recovery accomplishments.
But the incident didn’t just leave physical injuries.
“Your mind can go to all kind of dark places if you’re not careful,” she said. “It’s been rough. … I still have a long way to go.”
She said she leaned on family, friends and her strong faith to get her through the dark times.
Martz said she will have surgery in March "to remove some scar tissue and reattach the muscle to my hip.”
While she continues her recovery, Martz has stepped away from her duties as CFO for the engineering consulting firm Maxon Industries.
Meanwhile, she’s immersed herself in volunteer work. She’s the founder of “SHINE,” a nondenominational prayer group; serves as an ambassador for Baton Rouge Moms, which provides local moms with information and resources for the best family-friendly events, local businesses, products and services; and is involved with the Greater New Orleans Human Trafficking Task Force.
Martz is also an avid LSU fan. She’s a member of the Bengal Belles, the Tiger Athletic Foundation and is a football season ticket holder.
But it’s Mardi Gras that has been one of her recovery goals.
“To be able to physically walk in our tableau, to be able to stand proud and represent the Krewe of ALLA as queen in our parade …" she said. "It’s truly the brightest light at the end of a very long tunnel for me. I give all the glory to God and my husband for saving me that day.”