Mandy saw the familiar flash of red and blue lights. Another day, another car crash in the life of this EMS worker of 16 years. A vehicle had hydroplaned and flown off the road somewhere in northern Georgia, crashing at the bottom of a steep embankment -- pinning the driver and passenger under the wreckage. Mandy found herself amid emergency and chaos, which was nothing new...but this time it was different. As she lay battered underneath her car, unable to feel her legs, Mandy looked up at the flashing lights and realized that, this time, they were for her.
If you were to rewind the tape of Mandy’s life from that moment, you would see the car fly back up the embankment. You’d see Mandy carry on for years as a selfless and determined first responder, you’d see her navigate life as a teenager, and then as a child, always with purpose and a strong sense of self.
Of course in life, there is no rewind button. Time only moves forward. If you let the tape keep running, though, you would still see Mandy make her way up that embankment. You’d see her struggle, cry, and eventually accept the Paraplegia that resulted from the crash. You would see her put in months of work in rehabilitation, then re-apply for her paramedic license. And Mandy told us that, soon, you might see her get back to doing what she loves: saving lives.
That’s because for Mandy, years of chasing chaos as a paramedic were sprung from years of chasing her own independence when she was young. From household chores to school sports, Mandy’s attitude has always been “get it done, no matter what”.
But even the strongest among us (of which Mandy most certainly is one) cannot control every variable. Not everything is in our hands. On her second-ever call as a first responder, the person she had come to rescue lost their life, she was faced with the grim reality of the business: not everyone makes it out alive.
Mandy’s rare composition of strength and empathy makes her the perfect paramedic but also leaves her feeling the deep hurt from nights like that second call months, and even years, after the fact. That loss hit her hard, but it shaped her into being the person who cares deeply about the small, rural community she serves. She became the type of EMS worker who, one day on the job, heard an old lady in the emergency room say that she had no one to call, no family or friends, and decided to sit with her and talk to her to help her feel less alone.
After the crash, Mandy had to learn how to be vulnerable herself. She had to ask for and accept help -- after a lifetime of helping others. She even had to go through training to learn how to use the bathroom again and continues to navigate life without the use of her legs.
Part of the adjustment to her new life included making changes to her home. Before she returned home from rehabilitation, she needed to make her home wheelchair-accessible. While that’s pretty straightforward, Mandy did have one particular request: she needed a bathtub!
Before the accident, a big Friday night meant pouring a glass of wine, using up all the hot water her water heater could give, and soaking in the tub. After the accident, when so many things in her life had been flipped upside down, she needed this one thing to remain untouched. So she got her accessible tub and special bathing chair, and she used it until it practically fell apart.
And that’s where we come in. Mandy isn’t one to ask for much, and her request to Chive Charities was certainly no exception. She asked for our help in getting new mobility items, and we were able to grant her $1200 to purchase a new toilet chair and bath lift. While this may seem like a small purchase, for Mandy it is everything.
We say it all the time, but we’re gonna say it again: we know we can’t save the whole world. But what we can do at Chive Charities is make sure that injured first responders like Mandy get to take a bath at the end of the day, while maintaining their sense of independence.
The thousands of you who donate regularly on our website, directly from your paycheck through the channels like the Combined Federal Campaign (check out the CFC if you haven’t yet, by the way!) or during campaigns like our race to 3000, are the ones who give Mandy a reason to smile at the end of a long day. If you haven't signed up for a monthly membership, let Mandy’s story be a reminder that whether it's $5, $10, $50, $100 a month -- your dollars make a real difference in the lives of these heroes.
Together, we're making the world ten percent happier -- and it doesn't get much better than that. If you hold the same ideals, you can become a donor right HERE.