“She was a light. Full of life,” Kristi Tucker, Sarah Tucker’s mom said. “There’s so much I could say about her. She was beautiful.”
Sarah’s best friend Kathryn Granger echoed that sentiment.
“She meant the world,” she said. “She was my go-to person. She completed me.”
And in an instant, their lives were changed forever on March 10, 2018 when a trip to get prom dresses went terribly wrong on the drive home.
“I had never been on that highway before,” Kathryn said. “There was a straightaway exit– so you had to curve left to stay on the highway. I mean, I wasn’t looking at my maps or anything. So, I just figured you know– go straight. There was a stop sign, and the sun was just really bright and I just missed it.”
When she woke up, reality set in for Kathryn.
“I remember asking why I can’t feel my legs, why I can’t move, and I asked about Sarah.”
“You know the first thing that I thought of when we were told she would not make it– I remember thinking Sarah would say, ‘Mother, don’t be mad at Kathryn. She didn’t mean for this to happen,'” Kristi said.
Knowing that and navigating the reality of that forgiveness isn’t easy. The Tuckers credit grief support groups in helping in that journy. Kristi admits living through what would have been Sarah’s senior year has been incredibly painful.
“I’m thankful to have Kathryn,” Julie Granger, Kathryn’s mom, said. “And as much as we have our struggles, I can’t imagine, what they deal with daily.”
Meanwhile, Kathryn’s new reality has also taken adjustment.
“It’s just hard,” she said. “You don’t feel as pretty, or like dating is hard too.”
She spends every Friday in Fort Worth for therapy, but is never supposed to walk again. Despite the challenges, her faith is strong and so is her message of perseverance.
Kathryn has delivered her message to middle-school students and works weekdays after school for Canyon ISD Kids.
“It’s made me a lot tougher,” she said. “I also love working with kids because it shows them that I’m the same person and that my wheelchair has no effect on who I am; and it shows them that from a young age.”
Two families forever linked by tragedy. How they’re working to overcome that tragedy is a lesson for us all.
“Why am I here now, and what’s to come?” Kathryn said. “I have a lot of faith in God. Lately, it’s been hard to even pray, but things happen for a reason, and I’m content– for now”
Kathryn will graduate this year. She plans to go to college and become a teacher.
Meanwhile, her family is working to bring the kind of therapy they’re driving to Fort Worth for to Amarillo. Their weekly visits get outpatient rehab at a facility called Neurological Recovery Center have helped Kathryn with her new normal. The clinic offers the latest robotic equipment, adaptive yoga and aquatic therapy. Kathryn’s family hopes to bring a similary facility that will serve not only as an initial rehabilitation center, but also address long term needs like an adaptive fitness center. This facility will help people with spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, stroke patients, Huntington’s disease, other neuropathic conditions and certain ALS patients.
They’ve set up a fund through the Amarillo Area Foundation and are even hosting a fundraiser to raise money to get the project going. For more information and for tickets, email Julie at email@example.com
Sister-Bear Clay Shoot
Noon to 11 p.m.
River Breaks Ranch
$50 – $1000
The Tuckers are also working to support families who are experiencing the loss of a child by establishing grief support groups. Kristi started the groups because they could not find anything for parents that lost a child– including an adult child.
“We found groups for infant loss and suicide, but nothing for loss in general,” Kristi said. “Our group is open to any kind of loss.”
6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
4808 S. Bonham, Harvest Amarillo Church
Groups are also offered for siblings and grandparents. For more information, contact Kristi at (806) 341-8642.