Nurses, therapists and others who were part of Elizabeth "Graci" Garcia's care team surprised her with a Spirit Award the day she moved on from Madonna's pediatric unit.
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While she’s taken the next step in her recovery journey, 17-year-old Elizabeth “Graci” Garcia isn’t far from our memories. The Tekamah, Nebraska, teen spent four months recovering from a traumatic brain injury at Madonna’s Omaha Campus pediatric unit.
Recently, she got a spirit-worthy send-off complete with plenty of hugs, smiles and a few tears. Graci’s mother, Laura Meyeres-Garcia, shared how her daughter makes a big impression on others as her story is just beginning.
“The biggest thing everybody says is she’s always been their inspiration,” said Laura. “Whenever anybody needed someone to talk to, she always had the right words to say.”
“She’s our inspiration. She always has been, even when she was little. Always smiling. She’s in almost every sport that we have in Tekamah and she also is musical. She sings and plays the saxophone.”
Elizabeth “Graci” Garcia’s hard work and great attitude are a few reasons why her care team honored the 17-year-old with a Madonna Spirit Award in late June.
This after suffering a traumatic brain injury and subsequent stroke stemming from a single-vehicle car crash in late January 2017.
“That’s the day that our life kind of stopped, didn’t it,” Laura says, referring to a poster on the wall with the date of the accident.
“She asked a lot what happened to her and so we decided to put that up there to remind her of all of the day and all of the accomplishments that she has made since then.”
“On Valentine's Day we got to bring her here. She wasn’t even talking. She slept most of the time.”
“We did the standing frame. That really helped her get up in a standing position but it was the frame that was doing most of the work,” said Physical Therapist Lindsay Matherne. “And we had to hold her head up in the right position and think of activities that would help strengthen her neck her trunk, her legs.”
“I get letters from people all the time that say, ‘You know, I don’t know Grace, but watching her story has changed my life,’ that’s what they tell me,” said Laura.
“Music was always a part of her life. So it’s been a part of her rehab the whole time,” said Lindsay. “In the Lokomat we use it when she’s gait training to listen to the beat or to walk to the beat of the music and help keep her motivated to continue to work.”
“When she had her stroke, we didn’t think that she was ever going to be able to walk or use her legs and her hands. She’s doing all of that now. They told us that she would never be able to talk and she can talk now. She’s eating now regular food. Ramen noodles and Doritos,” said Laura.
To learn more about Madonna’s pediatric program, click here.