Clinical research associate, Chanelle Wimbish, was on the last day of her holiday in Virginia, with her aunts, uncles, and cousins in August 2009 when she was hit by a car as it sped through a carpark. 

The 36-year-old from Maryland, USA, was rushed to hospital where a doctor told her that she was paralysed from the chest down and had to undergo emergency surgery to repair her crushed spinal cord. 

According to doctors, she had just a three percent chance of being able to walk again.

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After ten weeks in hospital, Chanelle was discharged to carry on her physical therapy at home, where she adjusted to her new life in a wheelchair.

As destiny would have it, five months after her injury, she was able to wiggle her toes and was thrown into aggressive gait training to be able to walk.

While in recovery, she also got into swimming and racing in her wheelchair and has competed in many events, including trialling for the US Paralympic swimming team in 2016. 

In April 2014, Chanelle met her now-husband, Brennan (40), and they got engaged in February 2019. That's when Chanelle set herself the goal to walk down the aisle with two crutches. 

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On her wedding day, Chanelle walked down the aisle with just one crutch in front of her loved ones after two hours of intense therapy for six months before the wedding day.

"The reaction was tears and awe! All my family that was there that night with me in the hospital after my injury, were there to watch me walk down the aisle," says Chanelle on her Instagram page.

Bride told she had 3% chance of walking again defi

Chanelle walking down the aisle. Image by Media Drum World/ Magazine Features

She is an advocate for wheelchair users and shares her story on Instagram under the handle, @chanellescause. 

She shares, "When they told me that I had just a three percent chance of walking again, it really didn't faze me. I knew that was an arbitrary number, and being a scientist myself understood that all bodies heal and recovery is different."

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"Because of my faith, I was able to accept what happened. I prayed and read positive books and poems, knowing that I couldn't change what had happened but that I could learn to live my best life despite/with the injury." 

The turning point for her was when a friend told her just weeks after her injury that she needed to focus on getting better and not consume herself with 'why me and who did this?'

Bride

Chanelle in a wheelchairImages by Media Drum World/ Magazine Features

Chanelle's support network of family, friends, and colleagues has played a significant role in her recovery, and she says the experience has taught her the power of positive thinking when things don't quite go to plan.

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She is now a peer mentor in Washington DC, where she encourages others living with a spinal cord injury. In 2013 Chanelle learnt to drive using hand controls, and she is now able to retake road trips.

For those in a similar situation, Chanelle has this to say:"No circumstance is as unfortunate as you think it is, or as it seems. The mind is very powerful, so use it to transmit positivity in any situation to overcome.

"Be patient with yourself as being paralysed from the chest down, and being newly diagnosed with a spinal cord injury comes with a lot of changes. Take your days one day at a time and set goals as to how you are going to live life fruitfully."

Have you ever had to go through a challenging time and overcome? Share your story with us here.

 Sources: Media Drum World/ Magazine Features

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