In a blink of an eye, Grace Heydon's life changed. At 7-years-old, Grace was in a car accident, sending her into a coma. Doctors at Blank Children's told Grace's parents, Chris and Jen, that their daughter's chances of waking up were not good. Against the odds, Grace did.
"It is very scary to see your little one in a condition that you know you can't fix yourself," said Chris. "You get a helpless feeling down in your gut, but you know you have to be strong and do whatever you can."
Recovering from the accident was not easy, as Grace suffered multiple injuries. She broke five ribs, dislocated her shoulder, tore away her C1 and C2 vertebrae from the cartilage that holds the spinal cord in place and suffered Level 3 traumatic brain injury due to the rotational forces from the accident. That wasn't all. Grace had some rough moments battling pneumonia, infections and regulating her body temperature. She also needed surgeries to put in a tracheostomy, a feeding tube and to fuse her C1 and C2 vertebrae.
But, Grace's determined attitude has amazed everyone around her. The accident forced Grace to relearn basics, such as talking and walking, and she missed a year of school. Thanks to her hard work, Grace caught back up to her class in almost every area, and she has done all of this without a complaint.
"She has been an inspiration to myself and everyone around her on how she has handled this chapter in her life," said Chris. "Every night she ends her prayer with, 'And may tomorrow be another wonderful day.'"
Today, Grace, now 9-years-old, lives each day to the fullest and will not let her injuries keep her from what she loves. Grace is an avid Cyclone fan, and her passion is animals, as evidenced by her three cats, black lab, horse, bottle calf and 19 chickens, which she adores. This year at the Polk County Fair, Grace showed her calf, Bullet, after training and caring for him all out of a wheelchair. Her family, friends and church could not be more proud.
"The whole experience has given us a sense of knowing that we, as a family, can overcome anything that is put in front of us and that the one thing that matters most is each other," said Chris. "No one can change that."