Medina teen paralyzed in sledding accident one year ago focuses on recovery

Published: Feb. 22, 2022 at 10:49 PM EST
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MEDINA COUNTY, Ohio (WOIO) - It’s been a year since a sledding accident put a Medina teen in a wheelchair, but ever since the life-changing tragedy, 18-year-old Natalie Wilson has been focused on her recovery and her future.

19 Reporter Kelly Kennedy spoke with the teen for her first interview since the accident.

Last February Natalie went sledding on a popular hill in Hinckley just like she had done dozens of times, except this time was different.

The hill was really icy, and she lost control of her sled and crashed into a tree.

She hasn’t been able to walk since.

“I’m like, still the same person I was before the accident,” explained Natalie. “So, I guess it’s just made it easier.”

The Medina high school student thought the next year of her life would be focused on prom and graduation, but an unexpected turn of events has meant adjusting to a totally new normal.

“I think I was just, like, freaking out, like, in the moment, I couldn’t like, I didn’t know what to think, like, what was happening,” explained Natalie. “At first, I was like, like, in shock for a while. So I was like, well, this is weird because I know like before, I was like, oh, well like maybe in like six months like I’ll be like back to normal.”

Natalie has been paralyzed from the chest down ever since the accident.

She spent three months in the hospital and after surviving intubation and multiple surgeries, she finally came home.

But Natalie’s uphill battle didn’t end there.

She’s been laser-focused on her recovery and does various strength training exercises for hours a day. Her father couldn’t be prouder.

“Words can’t express honestly, what I’ve seen her go through, I know she would be the first to tell you, you know, she’s just doing what she needs to do,” said Natalie’s father, Jim Wilson. “I don’t think she sees really the heroicness of what she’s doing, just watching her every day, work extra hard to do things that were once so simple, and things that she took for granted. It has not shaken her like it would probably myself if it had happened to me and I’m just really proud of her and watching her go through that.”

What’s next for Natalie?

She takes her road test this week and her boards for her cosmetology license, and she graduates high school this spring.

“I’ll probably want to find like a salon and like, hair or like skin, and I might want to go to I might go to college for like, extra learning,” said Natalie.

But allowing Natalie to have a full life comes with a hefty price tag.

Her parents are working to buy their daughter a custom car that will allow her to drive using her hands.

“The more expensive things are modifying the doors so she can easily get a wheelchair in and drive and be independent,” her dad said.

In March the family is going to Texas so Natalie can participate in a neuro-recovery activity-based therapy opportunity.

“She’s still sort of in that window of what can work she can she regained,” explained Jim. “That’s usually a year to a year and a half. So, we’re hopeful there.”

Natalie is still determined to one day walk again and even go sledding.

“I think I definitely would go sledding again because it’s fun,” the teen said.

Some of the medical and therapy bills have been tough for the family to keep up with.

They are currently fundraising with Help Hope Live, a national medical fundraising nonprofit.

If you’d like to help the Wilson family click here.

The 18-year-old Medina high school student has been dedicated to her recovery ever since a...
The 18-year-old Medina high school student has been dedicated to her recovery ever since a sledding accident left her paralyzed from the chest down in February of 2021.(Wilson family)

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