Iowa teen takes steps toward walking again - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

Iowa teen takes steps toward walking again

Mackenzie Gorden's friends and family are helping her reach her goal. Mackenzie Gorden's friends and family are helping her reach her goal.

Lake City, Iowa teen, Mackenzie Gorden, wears a reminder around her neck to believe.  Just days before she graduates high school, she's excited to start her summer.  She believes it's going to be a good one.

"It's scary, but I'm excited," says Mackenzie.

But her whole summer won't be filled with friends and fun times, she'll be working hard to stand on her own two feet again.  She believes it's possible.

"Hoping for walking.  I've been working on it at physical therapy," says Mackenzie.

Video taken of her while in therapy shows she is close to walking gain.

Mackenzie hasn't always been wheelchair bound.  She was an athletic high school student at South Central Calhoun.  She loved cheerleading, dance, and FFA.  But a bad accident last June changed her life forever.

"I was driving home in my truck and there was a deer," says Mackenzie.  "I swerved and I caught the gravel on the right side of the road which spun me around and rolled me into a ditch two and a half times and hung there for about two hours before anyone came and found me."

She hadn't been drinking and she wasn't on her phone.  But her seatbelt, which probably saved her life, also trapped her.

"My one arm was completely pinned behind me and the seatbelt held it there and there was so much weight on it I couldn't get it out from behind me," says Mackenzie.

She was rushed to the local hospital.

"My shoulder hurt and I thought that my legs were different," says Mackenzie.  "That was the only thing we thought that was wrong with me.  I didn't have any scraps, cuts, blood, or bruises."

But it wasn't the only thing wrong.  She was flown to Des Moines where a doctor told her she would never walk again.

"It's kind of depressing to know that it's kind of over," says Mackenzie.

After several surgeries and rehab, she returned to Lake City for her senior year.  Crowned Homecoming Queen, she was more determined than ever to prove the doctors wrong.  And she has.  She's regaining feeling and strength in her limbs.

"It's not going to take long to get her mobility back," says Brittanie Gorden, Mackenzie's sister.

Mackenzie's sister Brittanie believes she's close to walking again, too.  That's why she's raising money to send her younger sister to a special rehab clinic in Colorado.

"People ask me, 'isn't it hard to ask for money?' and I guess my answer is 'no.'  It's a lot harder to see her like this, so I guess if me asking for money gets her to stand up it's worth it."

The therapy costs about $30,000 and their health insurance won't pay for it, so Brittanie is selling T-shirts, bracelets, and asking for donations.  In just six weeks she's raised about half the money to send Mackenzie to therapy.

"Sometimes I feel like it's the least I can do to help," says Brittanie.

They're still about $15,000 short.  But Brittanie, who keeps her reminder to believe close at hand, thinks they can do it.

"Things are so much better, but we have a long ways to go," says Brittanie.  "I really do hope that someday we can look back on this and it's a distant memory and we don't have either chair or any of the handicapped accessible stuff."

"It's so cliche when people are always like 'you can do whatever you put your mind to' and 'believe in yourself.' but it's not just me believing in myself," says Mackenzie.

It's also Mackenzie's friends and family who believe in her.

Mackenzie leaves June 1st for the Craig Hospital Spinal Cord Injury Rehab program in Colorado.
To help, go to Mackenzie's Facebook page or her donation website.

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