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Brunswick teen gets wheelchair accessible home

By Evan Millward, Weekend Anchor/Reporter, evanm@kmiz.com
Published On: Nov 21 2013 10:53:38 PM CST
Updated On: Nov 22 2013 03:38:42 AM CST

One month after a crash that left her paralyzed, Sami Simmons returned to a new home that had been renovated by volunteers.

BRUNSWICK, Mo. -

A Brunswick High School sophomore got a welcome home unlike any other Thursday evening.

Samanatha Simmons, 16, was injured in a car crash on her way to school on October 11. Her family said she hit loose gravel on the road and rolled her car. Simmons was paralyzed from the waist down in the accident.

When Simmons friends and classmates heard about the accident, they realized she would not be able to live in the trailer she shared with her grandmother.

A massive volunteer project began.

"We've basically worked non-stop for the past four days," said family friend Gayle Cline. The project in all is nearly one month in the making.

Volunteers, including Simmon's fellow cheerleaders, had to replace floors and plumbing. One kitchen wall even collapsed during renovations of the house. Simmons' grandmother owns the house and had previously rented it. All the doorways needed to be widened.

Barry Vandeventer and his two sons managed the more complicated construction issues. Vandeventer said Thursday it was projects like this that reminded him why he liked living in Brunswick.

Volunteers did the work and local churches provided some money, but the effort is still in the red. Simmons' friends have set up The Sami Fund at County Bank in Brunswick.

"Just when you get kind of down, you encounter someone else who does something generous or awesome and you're like back in it again," Joanie Defibaugh told ABC 17 News. Difebaugh helped organize the project.

Thursday night, volunteers were putting finishing touches on a new wheelchair accessible bathroom and some trim along the new floors. Kitchen cabinets and appliances still needed to be installed, along with a washer and dryer.

"It means a lot to know that I actually have somewhere where I can get in and out of the house now," Simmons said.

Simmons knew the renovations were coming and even picked out some of the features. She had spent the better part of the past month at Rusk Rehabilitation Center in Columbia.

Her doctors told her she had a less than five percent chance of walking again.

"I'm just trying really hard to adjust to my new self," she said. "I'm going to work with that but there's still that itty bitty chance of hope knowing there's that less than five percent chance I could walk again."

Nearly 20 of Simmons classmates and friends greeted her when she arrived back to Brunswick from the hospital Thursday. Many had some hand in the renovations of the home as well.

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