Teenager walking again since being paralyzed after car accident

Teenager walking again since paralyzed after car accident

FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) - It was a year and one day ago when 15-year-old Mary Catherine Rawlinson was almost completely paralyzed after a car accident on Claussen Road in Florence. That day, July 15, 2017, changed the Rawlinson's family's life forever.

"At first, I was worried. I was scared," Mary Catherine said.

Mary Catherine's mom, Stephanie, remembers it like it was yesterday. The family had just finished cheering on Mary Catherine's younger sister, Ella, at a regional swim meet at Francis Marion University and decided to head to Myrtle Beach for dinner.

"We had a wonderful dinner, ate fast. It was really good," Stephanie said.

On the way back home, a car hit the family head-on. The entire family suffered injuries. Stephanie's husband broke several bones, Ella broke her sternum bone and Stephanie bruised her knees. However, Mary Catherine's injuries were the worst.

Mary Catherine said she woke up a few minutes after the crash with no movement in her arms and legs and thoughts racing in her head

"What if I don't make it, what if they can't get me out of the car," Mary Catherine said.

Since then Mary Catherine underwent intense therapy at McLeod and at the Shepherd Center, a spinal cord and brain rehab facility in Georgia. She had to learn how to do simple tasks again like brush her teeth, and wash her face.

"Sitting up was still a big effort because her blood pressure was so unstable then," Stephanie said.

It was at Shepherd, Stephanie said, when Mary Catherine gained movement back in her lower body. That Wednesday before Labor Day, Mary Catherine moved her big toe. It was a moment they consider a miracle, thinking she would never walk again the day before.

"I was like I did that, I did that and it was an amazing moment," Mary Catherine said.

Stephanie mentions the overwhelming support of the community during Mary Catherine's journey like raising funds for medical expenses and helping transform the Rawlinson's home to better fit Mary Catherine needs

Last month, Mary Catherine took her first steps in front of a crowd at the runway fashion show put on by the Shepherd Center in Atlanta, Georgia, showing off her progress to those who have helped her along the way.

"Me walking down that runway with the people who saw me when I first got there and couldn't more anything just to see how far I've come it was a great thing to experience," Mary Catherine said.

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