Perseverance - "steadfastness despite difficulty or delay in achieving success"
Mary was 16 years old when she and her boyfriend Blaine were involved in a head-on collision. It was November 22, 2009 and while tragic, her experience has changed the lives of many people.
Mary suffered multiple fractures. Every limb in her body was broken. The force of the impact was such that it was a miracle in itself that she survived. The whiplash effect caused a traumatic brain injury. In what had to be the will of God, Blaine was spared major injuries and while waiting for help had the courage and sense of mind to assist Mary and call parents. He was credited by EMT’s at the scene for saving her life.
There are no words to describe the feelings of any parent who gets that news. Mary was flown from the accident scene by helicopter to Arkansas Children’s Hospital. In transport, she received 4 units of blood. She would spend the next 5 months of her life at Arkansas Children’s hospital. It was there that the story begins. It is an incredible story of love, and community, and patience, and trust.
Flocks of people appeared at the hospital – Mary’s classmates, friends, family friends, church friends, co-workers – all clamoring for information about Mary’s status. Over the next few days, the care she received in the PICU was heroic. She went through multiple surgeries, including brain surgery and on the day after Thanksgiving 4 surgeons each took a limb and put her body back together.
Each day brought new visitors and more questions. Family came in from across the country but updating Mary’s status became overwhelming. A family member suggested using Caring Bridge as a communication tool to keep people informed about Mary. Caring Bridge allowed the family to post news and updates, prayers and emotions about the experience.
And then, it took off - over 1000 visitors in the first few days checking on her status and posting in the guestbook, offering their own prayers and words of comfort. Today, there have been over 500,000 visits to the Caring Bridge site from places across the globe! People have reflected that Mary’s story caused them to get down on their knees and pray again. There is no lack of trust that God will continue to heal her.
Mothers of Mary’s school friends filled baskets full of homemade cakes and goodies and delivered them to all shifts of doctors and nurses who were treating her.
Gifts, banners, and get-well cards came pouring in to the hospital.
The booster club at school decided to sponsor a fundraiser for Mary’s family. It would be a celebrity basketball game. As tickets were being printed, the demand grew to the point where the venue had to be changed twice to accommodate the crowd. Over 3,000 people came to the game to support Mary and show their love to her family.
Although Mary experienced several medical setbacks, her stamina and perseverance in therapy was inspiring. She became a model of encouragement for people who were facing their own adversities.
After 5 months at Children’s Hospital, it was time for Mary to move. She would spend the next 3 months at Baptist Health Rehabilitation Institute and similarly, the doctors, nurses, and therapists cared for her as if she were their own. One of the therapists was so touched by Mary she continues to treat Mary at home today. She has become a part of the family.
Mary continued to make progress, but it will still be some time before she regains full use of her arms and legs. Nevertheless, when she was discharged from Baptist Rehab, her therapists walked her out the door, supporting her as human crutches amid cheers from the staff and tears of joy.
There have been no limits to the love and support that Mary and her family have received while she was hospitalized and even today.
In the 8 months of her hospitalization, Mary never spent a night alone. Friends rotated through multiple shifts to ensure that when her parents were getting much needed rest someone was there. There was not a day that went by, unless by request, that dinner wasn’t waiting at the door for Mary’s family when they got home.
Since transitioning to her recovery at home, Mary has received an honorary diploma and graduated with her class at Mount St. Mary, so great was the love of her classmates! She has continued her school work through the Little Rock School District and on May 13, 2014 she graduated! There are no limits to what God has in store for her!!
In August of 2010 and every year since, friends have organized a golf tournament. There has yet to be anything less than a full slate of teams. Proceeds will help families coping with Traumatic Brain Injuries.
Mary continues to amaze. Whether it’s her ability to keep herself steady on a horse at Beyond Boundaries or entertain with her new found laughter and smile, she brightens the world of those around her.
Stay tuned, as her story continues to evolve….