Catholic Free Press

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  • Jun
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Student recovering from winter accident

Posted By June 26, 2014 | 1:35 pm | Featured Article #2
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By Laura Lambert
CFP Correspondent

On February 28 a traumatic hit-and-run accident put Amanda O’Malley’s life on hold.  The Assumption College graduate and Worcester resident can recall little of the night she took her dog for a walk on Belmont Street. She remembers her dog running ahead of her as she stepped into a snow bank. Now, months later, her only memories of the early days following the accident are of the pain she felt in her arm and leg as she lay in a hospital bed at UMass.
“Well, I don’t remember much of the accident actually happening … the next thing I know, I’m in the hospital and he (her father) is telling me I got hit by a car,” she said.  “I remember the pain in my arm and leg and that’s pretty much it.  … After getting moved from the ICU, I remember being frustrated I couldn’t feed myself cereal.”
Ms. O’Malley, sustained injuries in her leg and arm, as well as a severe concussion, broken bones in her face and a fractured vertebra in her neck. Such wounds could have paralyzed the 23-year-old woman, damaged her brain or even killed her.  Despite the odds, Ms. O’Malley has undergone a remarkable, though harrowing and stressful, recovery.  Both the young woman and her father attribute her healing to the presence of the Divine in their lives.
“You have to put your faith in God,” Brian O’Malley stated.  “We immediately sent out for prayers.  I had several parishes praying for her. I had put things out on Facebook, and I’m positive that because we had so many people praying for her is one of the reasons why she’s healing so nicely.”
Ms. O’Malley, on the other hand remarked on the presence of guardian angels in her life.
“I feel like I definitely must have had a guardian angel that night that must have saved me somehow,” she said, “because all I had to do was hit just the right way and maybe it [the accident] would have ended differently.”
Unfortunately, the strain of hospital bills and the loss of Mr. O’Malley’s job has made Ms. O’Malley’s recovery feel more stressful than miraculous for the family. The potential for homelessness and the struggle to pay bills has caused the family to turn to social media for help. Mr. O’Malley, a salesman by nature, has used Facebook and other connections to direct probable donors to the crowd-funding webpage . The family has a campaign goal of $16,000 and hopes to use the funds raised to pay off some of the debt incurred over the course of Ms. O’Malley’s continued recovery.
“We still have no idea what the final toll of the medical expenses will be as she is still receiving care, physical therapy as well as medical follow-ups,” said Mr. O’Malley, “and [she] may have some permanent nerve damage from the broken bones, surgery.”
As of Tuesday, June 17, the online campaign totaled 50 donations with $5,925 raised.  With only 13 days to go before the campaign ends, Amanda’s Accident Recovery Fund is just over $10,000 short of the $16,000 goal.  The family hopes for further donations in the coming weeks and would like to thank the people who have already contributed.
“For the people who have donated I would like to say, thank you for remembering that the best form of charity is to help your neighbor directly,” Mr. O’Malley said.  “People like you show people in need that there are in fact many good people hidden in plain sight.”
Although Ms. O’Malley is still healing, she was able to walk at Assumption College’s Graduation ceremony on May 17.  She looks forward to completing the last of her school work by the end of July.  In the meantime, she has learned to appreciate life one moment at a time.
“I feel like it’s just one of those experiences where you don’t know what can happen, from one day to another. … If my neck had been injured just the right way, maybe I wouldn’t have made it that night,” she said.  “So it’s just kind of one of those experiences where you just want to take it one day at a time and you really want to appreciate what you do have because it can be taken away in no time.”