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Paralyzed 10-year-old forges ahead after severe accident

It seemed just like an ordinary day. A 10-year-old girl sat in the back passenger seat of her family's vehicle as they drove to return some DVDs. But in one instant, everything changed.

Another car struck the family's vehicle on the opposite side. The girl was wearing her seatbelt, which probably saved her life. She was severely injured and was paralyzed from the waist down in the car accident. But that hasn't stopped her from returning to her favorite activities.

She spent 16 days at a Tennessee hospital following the crash, couldn't sit up for two weeks and at first relied on a breathing tube. But after some intense physical therapy and rehabilitation, she returned to her small school -- the only place she's really known, her family says -- and has been determined not to let the wheelchair she uses get in her way.

She loves rugby and began playing again about a month after the accident. She ice skated in a production of "The Nutcracker." She's also on her school's cheerleading team. A photo featured on the Knoxville News Sentinel's website shows her shooting hoops with friends at recess.

Her family says she has been determined and positive since the crash happened almost a year ago. Already, she says she knows she will walk again. Sometimes there is movement in her legs and she is hoping to be a candidate for leg braces that could help her walk. Her family, teachers and students at her school are gearing up for a 5K this weekend that will raise funds so she can go to the Project Walk Spinal Cord Injury Recover Center for further treatment.

Her attitude, perhaps more than anything, is the key. She tells the Sentinel, "My family takes it hard sometimes, and I do, too. But the accident is over, and I am not."

Source: Knoxville News Sentinel, "Community rallies to help 10-year-old working toward walking again after paralyzing car accident," Allison Rupp, March 27, 2012

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