(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) After a tragic car accident left a St. Joseph woman permanently injured, she has returned from the hospital to a newly renovated home.
On New Year's Day, Donna and Rick Cadwallader were driving south on I-29 near Dearborn when they hit a piece of ice. The crash report from the Missouri State Highway Patrol said the car overturned and landed on its roof. Troopers said the couple were not wearing seatbelts.
“Ya know, waking up January 1st and being able to dress myself and now, I can’t feel anything from my armpits down," said Donna Cadwallader.
Cadwallader is now quadripoligic.
Over the past five months, she has been in hospitals and rehab centers from across the midwest learning how to live her new life from a chair.
Once the primary caregiver for her family, she now relies on them. Cadwallader said she took for granted the little things, "I can’t dress myself. This and that. Bless my mom, she is here every morning. She helps get me dressed."
While she is relearning how to navigate the world from a different point of view, she isn't doing it alone.
Since the wintery car crash, Cadwallader's family and friends got to work putting together a Valentine's Day benefit to raise money to transform her home to be handicap accessible. The community donated $23,000.
“It pretty much helped us change what we could in the house and helped us pay medical bills,” said Haley Cadwallader, daughter.
On June 2nd, Cadwallader was welcomed back from her five-months-long journey to recovery to a home fit for her new needs.
“There were steps before and a step to get into the house. Now, I can just roll right in the house,” said Cadwallader.
She now has a ramp, widened door frames, hardwood floor, handicap accessible shower and van.
Cadwallader continues to work on her strength and hopes for the best. She said the next two years will determine how much mobility she will have for the rest of her life.
She is a fighter, grateful for the second chance at life and the people on her side who continue to push her forward. Cadwallader said she is, "Truly blessed to have family and friends like that.”
In the meantime, Cadwallader said she's going to wake up with a positive outlook everyday.