Distracted Driving Accident Survivor Awarded Scholarship
Ryan Zavodnick | May 31, 2017 | Firm News
The attorneys at Zavodnick, Zavodnick & Lasky, LLC are excited to announce the winner of our Bi-Annual Future Leaders Scholarship: Jane L. Todd of Ocala, Florida. Jane will be attending Samford University beginning this fall and shows remarkable resilience, strength, and ambition. We wish her all the best in her future endeavors. Thank you to everyone who applied; we were honored to hear the stories of so many talented students. We have shared Jane’s essay below.
Jane L. Todd
I cannot remember my first helicopter ride.
From the first semester of freshman year to October of 2015 I was valedictorian of my class; however, this all changed on October 18. Three friends and I were leaving a church concert that evening; I was riding in the rear driver’s side seat of the car. Because of a distracted driver, we were t-boned by another vehicle going 60 mph, right where I was seated.
My friends walked away from the car, but I was pinned inside and knocked unconscious. The first responders to the scene thought that they were dealing with a fatality, but fortunately I had buckled my seatbelt. The Jaws of Life extracted me and I was life-flighted to our trauma center. I had a double fracture to my jaw and a concussion, causing me to have my jaw wired shut for six weeks, miss weeks of school, and lose my valedictorian status. I was not able to play in our varsity volleyball State Championship Tournament.
And while there is no “good time” for a concussion, just prior to the SAT-taking-months of my junior year was horribly inconvenient, as I had suffered all of the symptoms typical for concussion (memory loss, fatigue, lack of concentration, migraine headaches). The concussion greatly hindered my SAT-taking concentration, which hindered my ability to obtain higher levels of university-based scholarship funds.
So enter one of my mom’s favorite sayings: “Nobody gets through this life without hurting.” It seems that we don’t get to choose when or which “hurts” are served to us; we only get to decide how we will handle them. I realized that I had a choice to make: I could wallow on the sidelines in self-pity or get back up. Thanks to my faith, family and friends, I got back up. I learned to be thankful for what DID NOT happen in the accident. I could still walk, talk, and breathe.
I learned firsthand about the dangers of complacent and distracted driving, and to NEVER, EVER text while driving. After six weeks, my jaw was unwired, and I didn’t have to “drink” my food anymore. With the help of my teachers, I caught up with my schoolwork by Thanksgiving. And with the encouragement of my teammates and coaches, I trained and was back in shape for my senior year of volleyball. Most exciting of all, I was accepted to my first choice of college, Samford University.
The accident taught me many things, but perhaps the most important lesson I have learned is how to deal better with “life’s hurts”. It has equipped me with a deeper understanding of how to handle obstacles that may come my way; and more importantly, a deeper empathy for the “hurts” that may come to others. Nietzsche once said, “That which does not kill us, makes us stronger.”
Nietzsche has it right, but I might add to it: “That which does not kill us, makes us stronger (, wiser, and more empathetic)”. I cannot remember my first helicopter ride, but I will always remember the lessons learned from the accident that necessitated it.