At her bachelorette party in May of 2010, Rachelle’s best friend playfully pushed her into a shallow pool. The bride-to-be landed on her head, suffering a C6 spinal cord injury. When she surfaced, Rachelle couldn’t move…at all.
Rachelle spent nearly three months in the hospital before she could begin therapy. It was at that point she learned she’d never walk again. Admittedly, she struggled to adjust to her new reality. Paralyzed, confined to a wheel chair, her life has been permanently interrupted.
But forgiving the friend who pushed her into the pool was as simple as strolling down the sidewalk once was for the former lifeguard and graduate of East Carolina University. Without revealing her friend’s name to the press, Rachelle says of her, “I’m absolutely best friends with the girl…. Blaming her would be ridiculous. It was an accident. A freak accident.”
As a testament of Rachelle’s total forgiveness, the friend will be at Rachelle’s wedding.
In a situation like this, one might expect the fiancé to change his mind about whether he wants to commit his life to someone who needs even the most basic of life’s necessities performed for her. But Chris Chapman stands behind the promise he gave to Rachelle. “I never once thought about leaving her or this situation,” he resolutely declares.
“We’re definitely built to last,” Chapman said. So, when Chris leaves the middle school classroom where he teaches all day, he heads home to relieve Rachelle’s mom from taking care of her. “She was and is my best friend. I cannot wait to marry her,” says Chapman.
They’ve got plenty of obstacles ahead of them. They’ve racked up incredible debt due to medical bills, and their insurance isn’t enough. In fact, if they do get married, Medicaid will cease helping because their combined income will make them ineligible for assistance.
With Thanksgiving approaching – Rachelle’s first Thanksgiving in a wheelchair – she prepares for the arrival of her family and friends. “We all have something to be thankful for,” says the 25-year-old Friedman.
And she intends to celebrate that perspective with those who love her most.
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(Resource cataloged by David R Smith)