After we announce our scholarship recipients each year, we like to celebrate each student and their inspiring story. Today, we’d love for you to meet Heidi, who is one of 180 Medical’s spinal cord injury scholarship recipients in 2020.
Meet Heidi, 2020 Spinal Cord Injury Scholarship Recipient
Heidi grew up incredibly active. From childhood on, she was always outside or staying involved in sports. In the summer of 2019, not only was she working as a lifeguard and teaching swimming lessons, but she was also completing a hydrology internship at Boise State University. Heidi jumped at this amazing opportunity after deciding to study hydrology in college.
Unfortunately, all those plans were upended when Heidi was involved in a car accident after overcorrecting on a dirt road. Her car rolled over the edge of an embankment, and Heidi’s spine was broken between the T11 and T12 vertebra. She was taken by life-flight to a hospital in Boise, where she was rushed into emergency surgery to fuse her back.
Heidi didn’t fully understand the impact of what had happened until her parents broke the news a few days later. Heidi was now paraplegic, and everything in her life had changed.
Turning a Tragedy into New Opportunities
Although Heidi tried to stay positive, it was hard not to dwell on what she had lost. Over the summer, while she was in rehabilitation therapy, she tried to keep up with what was going on at her summer job and with her swim and volleyball teammates.
Once her surgical incisions healed, her therapist suggested she try swimming therapy. “I had the amazing realization that I still have the strength and natural affinity for water,” says Heidi.
Then, in the fall, she decided to keep up with volleyball by practicing from her wheelchair and attending all her team’s games. In addition to that, she branched out into new interests by trying out for a fall theater production at her college. To her surprise and excitement, she landed the lead role!
Also, she began swimming with an organization called Aquabilities. Her swimming instructor introduced her to a Paralympic swimming and triathlon coach. Today, they’re working together on Heidi’s new goal of completing a triathlon.
She’s also active with cross country skiing and sled hockey through the Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF).
Heidi’s New Future Goals
After Heidi’s experience, a world of new opportunities opened up. Today, she is working toward the goal of obtaining a college degree in physical therapy.
Part of this is due to her positive experience with her physical therapists, rehabilitation therapists, and physical therapy assistants. “I realize physical therapy is a career that matters greatly to all the people whose quality of life depends on effective rehabilitation.”
We wish Heidi all the best as she continues on her new life path to help others through the power of therapy, adaptive sports, and physical exercise.
More Information About the 180 Medical Scholarship Program
We’re accepting applications for this year’s 180 Medical College Scholarship Program through June 1st.
This annual scholarship program opportunity is open to eligible college students with one or more of the following medical conditions.
- Spina bifida
- Transverse myelitis
- Spinal cord injury
- Neurogenic bladder
- Ostomy (colostomy, urostomy, and/or ileostomy)
Learn more and apply online at www.180medical.com/scholarships.