7-year-old girl paralyzed in swimming accident: ‘We believe God’s healing her’
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Tre Faulkner has struggled with many emotions since doctors said his 7-year-old daughter, Sarah, would never walk again.
On Aug. 6, the family, who lives in the Nashville area, spent the day at Loretta Lynch’s Ranch in Tennessee for an event.
Faulkner said Sarah and her older sister were swimming at the creek when another teenager jumped from the top of a rock with the intention of landing in the water but instead landed on Sarah’s back. The blow sent Sarah to the bottom of the creek where she hit her head.
Faulkner said he and his family were watching a motocross race and didn’t witness the tragedy.
Sarah Faulkner,7, remains hospitalized in Atlanta where she is undergoing surgeries and therapy. (Tre Faulkner)
"Somebody came running and yelling at us that Sarah had been in a bad accident, and she can’t feel her legs," Faulkner told FOX Television Stations. "Our hearts sunk."
Faulkner said by the time the family reached the creek, the unknown teenager had already left. He saw his daughter in an ambulance, covered with blood, and ready to be airlifted to Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
RELATED: Little boy runs to Pope Francis during weekly audience
"I remember her looking up to me, and she said ‘Daddy, am I going to die?’ and I said ‘No baby, you’re not going to die,’" he said.
At the hospital, the family learned Sarah suffered multiple fractures and broken bones in her back in addition to a large gash in the back of her head.
Doctors then told the family Sarah was paralyzed from the chest down. Sarah then eventually learned her prognosis as well.
"She’s had a positive spirit about it the whole time," Faulkner continued, saying his daughter has barely cried through her ordeal. "Sarah Faulkner is really giving me and the world...a clinic, a lesson, in how to suffer well."
Faulker said the family is relying on their faith in God to get through this trial. They have received many prayers and gifts from countless people.
"Since the beginning, we’ve been praying and believed God is going to heal her and raise her up," Faulkner said. "We believe that all things work together for the good for those who love God and are called according to his purpose."
Through it all, Faulkner said he and his daughter have come to forgive the teenager who caused the accident. The father said the principle comes from his Christian faith in which Jesus preached agape love, which believers feel is the highest form of unconditional, benevolent love.
"Sarah said ‘I want to forgive and pray for her,’" he explained.
RELATED: Praying coach who won Supreme Court case says all he wants is his job back
Faulker said since the diagnosis, Sarah has shown some movement such as moving her feet by a few millimeters and jerking when a catheter is inserted. She’s currently hospitalized at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta undergoing surgery and therapy before hopefully returning home in a few weeks.
The father said his daughter has often kept her spirits up, such as sharing her donated gifts with other children in the hospital.
"Even in the midst of her most incredible struggle in her life, she’s thinking about other people," he continued.
The family continues to travel from Nashville to Atlanta to care for their daughter. They have set up a GoFundMe page to help out with medical expenses.
This story was reported from Los Angeles.