MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Local News

July 25, 2013

Cycle gives girl paralyzed in crash more freedom

Community raises money to get cycle, but Paralyzed Vets chapter donates bike

VIAN — A 10-year-old Cherokee girl paralyzed in a car wreck nearly two years ago got a great surprise thanks to some caring employees from Redbird Smith Health Center in Sallisaw, according to a media release.

Taylor Hofmann was met this week at Vian City Lake by health employees and members of the Paralyzed Veterans of America and presented with a $2,300 hand cycle, which allows Taylor to ride a bike using her hands to pedal.

After riding laps around her family on her new hand cycle Hofmann didn’t want to stop.

“Can we leave my wheelchair here and use this?” Hofmann said.

She was left paralyzed from the waist down after a car wreck near Gore in October 2011. During recovery at Shriner’s Hospital for Children in Chicago, she was able to ride a hand cycle.

Seeing a need for Hofmann to have a hand cycle at home for physical therapy, exercise and an increased sense of freedom, Hofmann’s aunt, who works at Redbird Smith, was determined to get one. Kathy Lewis shared the story with her co-workers, and they started fundraising in March.

“Everyone at the clinic really got behind this little girl,” said Jerry Caughman, Redbird Smith administrator. “It’s a wonderful reflection of everyone’s true spirit and how they’ve come together and worked hard as a team. They pull together and take care of each other.”

The employees raised more than $1,100 in a raffle and $800 from a community yard sale and planned to buy the cycle. However, the Paralyzed Veterans of America Mid-America Chapter heard about the project and asked if they could donate the cycle.

“We heard about Taylor’s plight to try to get her a three-wheel bike, so we got one together just the right size for her,” said Bill Kokendoffer, president of the chapter out of Oklahoma City. “If we can, we will show a person like Taylor that life doesn’t end after an injury. You can still do a lot of the things you used to do, you just have to do it a different way.”

The Redbird Smith employees used their donations to buy Hofmann an air conditioning unit for her bedroom and a trip to Branson, Mo., with her family.

“Everyone at Redbird Smith has worked very hard with donations and their time off that they put into this, and I don’t know how we could ever repay them other than maybe seeing Taylor on her new bike,” Lewis said.

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