Teen injured in horse accident makes miraculous recovery, surprises volleyball team at game

Shakopee High School volleyball players were served a huge surprise Wednesday night when their injured teammate showed up at their game.

Sophomore Sierra Monahan sustained life-threatening injuries in a horseback riding accident on Aug. 20 when her horse flipped over backward and ended up on top of her.

On Wednesday night, the volleyball booster club held "Serve for Sierra Night," a fundraiser to support Sierra’s recovery. It's possibly the biggest fundraiser the volleyball program has ever planned.

"Sierra's been a huge motivator to our team," said Anna Podewils, Sierra’s coach. "I know there are people traveling long distances just to come here. There's a lot of local support coming from the community."

After six weeks spent recovering, first at Hennepin County Medical Center and now at Gillette Rehab Center, Sierra made her biggest stride yet: She walked the halls of Shakopee High Wednesday night and surprised her sophomore teammates in the gym during the fundraiser. When she walked in, the crowd gave her a standing ovation.

"I feel like it's honestly been a miracle. All the doctors have told us a ton of times that she shouldn't be with us and she should have never even left our yard. And now here, she's walking into the gym," said Farah Pieper, Sierra's mom.

Sierra said six weeks ago, she imagined she'd be watching the fundraiser on a live stream.

"I just want to thank everyone who's been praying for me and sending their thoughts and support to my family because it helped us through the situation," Sierra said.

She only was able to leave the rehab center for a few hours, but in that time, her family was utterly overwhelmed by the thousands of dollars raised by their Shakopee friends and neighbors.

"Ever since they took the tube out, that's what she's been wishing for is to sit on the bench with her team," Pieper said.

She's been a motivator to her team on the court, and in turn, they encourage her to keep pushing herself in therapy, so she's able to get back home.

"She's impressed us all so far. I think she'll just keep working hard to get back to the things she loves," Pieper said.