Can-Do-Ability: Answers and Solutions from my personal experiences of living with a disability

Bride-to-be Breaks Neck On Hen’s Night

14 Dec 2010It should've been the happiest time of her life, 24 year old Rachelle Friedman and her close friends were celebrating her upcoming marriage to partner of five years, Chris Chapman, that was due to occur in a month's time.

After a great night out, they decided to take an impromptu late night dip in a pool at a beach in Virginia. Her best friend, who was one of Rachelle's bridesmaids, playfully pushed her into the pool, as they'd done many times before. This time however, something went terribly wrong, Rachelle's head hit the bottom of the shallow end of the pool, which was only 60cm deep, breaking her neck in the process, causing an irreversible C6 spinal cord injury. Rachelle said she heard a crack in her neck and went stiff and couldn't move, but didn't panic, she said she knew exactly what had happened, when she floated back to the top of the water, she screamed for help.

As a result of the accident, Rachelle is now paralysed from the collar bone down. Due to the tragedy, Rachelle and her husband to be, Chris, had to postpone the wedding until after their insurance matters are resolved. Chris says that he is still devoted to his fiancé and will stay by her side, no matter what. Rachelle said she would do exactly the same if the roles were reversed.

Unfortunately though, due to red tape, if the couple go ahead with the wedding, Rachelle will no longer be eligible to receive assistance to cover expensive medical bills and that is why they haven't married yet, they are planning on hopefully marrying in the summer of 2011.

After 3 months recovering in hospital and time in rehab, Rachelle's progress has improved rapidly to the delight of her doctors. She has been working very hard to improve and transform her final medical outcome and along with her strong positive attitude, it has paid off, as she is now able to move her arms, push her wheelchair around and type with her thumb. She has never given up and is happy to see people receiving positivity through her and what would normally be devastating circumstances. Rachelle says she focuses on what she can do, not what she can't do (which is also a motto of mine).

She has never publicly named her friend who pushed her into the pool, Rachelle says there is no reason to forgive her because she never blamed her in the first place. Her best friend on the other hand, blames herself and has a hard time dealing with everything that has happened, but Rachelle says they will always be friends and it was a freak accident that could've happened to anyone.

I wish Rachelle and Chris the best of luck in the future with their wedding plans, which I'm sure, will have to be revised and altered to suit a wheelchair bride.

It's so great to see the human spirit shining brightly through adversity, it makes you realise what you have and to be more grateful...

To view an interview with Rachelle and Chris on America's Today Show, click on this link: http

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