Committed to creating a positive change...
It was Good Friday, March 25, 2005, around noon, a beautiful spring day. I just received a bathing suit in the mail, tried it on, and went outside to lie out. There was no sun in my backyard and personally bugs in the grass freak me out. So I lay out in the driveway. I was talking on the phone to my best friend, Ashley Hallman. She lives out of town, so I knew I'd be on the phone with her for awhile.
My dad was coming home from work to for a quick lunch. I had talked to him on the phone earlier, but I didn't mention I was in the driveway. I actually heard him coming, turned to look over my shoulder at him, and thought he saw me. So I lay back down on the towel with my head facing the street and my feet facing the backyard.
Before I knew it, he was pulling up the driveway. The front license plate of the Dodge Intrepid struck my head and crushed it to my chest breaking my neck at the C4 level. I told my friend, Ashley, "I just got ran over; I’ll have to call you back.” Then I just laid there. I remained conscious; however, not realizing I was instantly paralyzed.
My dad jumped out of the car and came immediately by my side. He was holding me and kept telling me, “OH, I’m so sorry; I didn't see you, Baby.” He screamed so loud for help and quickly called 911. He begged the 911 lady to stay on the phone and pray with us.
My mom came running out of the house screaming and crying and was so afraid. She didn’t realize my dad had reached 911, and I didn’t realize I had not hung the phone up, so the phone was not working for my mom to call 911. So she ran hysterically screaming to the neighbors for them to call 911.
I remained conscious the entire time trying to convince my dad everything is OK. I remember telling him, “I just can't feel my arms, and I'm going to be okay. Never thinking my legs could not move, I only felt like my arms were wrapped around my stomach. But my arms were really by my side.
First came the fire trucks, then the police officers, and I told them, "That's nice you're here, but where's the ambulance." Then unexpectedly we heard a loud noise overhead. The police officer said, "there they are." The life flight helicopter landed in the cul-de-sac in my neighborhood.
I was flown to North Fulton Regional Hospital (NFRH) in Alpharetta Georgia where Neurologist, Dr. Florence Barnett, performed surgery for the next three hours. When I woke up from surgery, that's when I found out; I was a C4/C5 quadriplegic with no movement beyond my neck.
I remained in NFRH ICU for the rest of the weekend, and then transferred to the Shepherd Spinal Center in Atlanta where I spent the next two months in rehab learning how to deal with my new life. I never realized all the small things I had always taken for granted. Now my life was changed instantly and drastically, I didn’t know what to fully expect.
All I knew was in order to face this unforeseeable challenge and move forward with my life, I have to stay positive and keep myself motivated to accomplish the things that are important to me in life. I remember when I got my wheelchair, I thought, “Thank God! Now I can get out of this bed”.
Coming Home to a Band of Angels
What a celebration!! I met neighbors I never even knew. For a full year, my neighbors of Cooks Valley in Marietta, Ga. came to my rescue, as well as my parent’s. While my mom and I would go to Shepherd three days a week for therapy, my neighbors would come clean and bring food so my mom could get rest and be able to care for me. I had a special family friend that would come take me out to eat in order for my mom to get more rest.
When I got hurt, so many people in the community reached out to help me and my family. My neighbor next door, Bob Kern, became our family photographer. He would take pictures when I first came home from Shepherd, when I would go to therapy, just all pictures and videos of my progress. He was like a proud Uncle!
Johnson Ferry Baptist Church helped with the home modifications while First Baptist of Woodstock and Carl Black donated me a full sized Ford E250 handicap van.
Then along came a neighbor I didn’t even know as I was sunning outside one day after therapy. He came up the drive way, and we immediately hit it off. We talked about the many things that we both face in life. But he talked to me about his positive outlook on life and how he has put all his trouble behind him and continues to live a full and rewarding life.
He mentioned me at the next breakfast club meeting and all the guys wanted to think of some way to help me. So this wonderful group of men, I so affectionately call “The Bagel Boys” started doing a Magic Show and Auction benefit fundraiser for me. One by one, they started introducing me to some Atlanta celebrities like Fredi Gonzalez, Bobby Cox, and Ned Yost, and even a US Senator Johnny Isakson. For two years, they helped me financially be able to continue the beyond therapy program at Shepherd Center, which cost approximately $3500 a month. I was so fortunate to have met these great caring men and their great caring wives. I have been truly blessed. I graduated from Kennesaw State University in May, 2008, and my new lifelong friends have truly kept my dreams of recovery alive.
Why I Wanted to Start a Foundation
So, now it’s time for me to pass on my good fortune to others. I want to put my troubles behind me and think of ways to help others with similar situations like mine to receive the therapy, or equipment, they need and the research we all will need. So please join me in keeping the dreams of recovery alive.