August 9, 2019 marks 2 years since Keiri Suárez was in a life-altering car accident.
The accident left her paralyzed from the neck down and her only movement is through facial expressions. Keiri has a ventilator attached to her wheelchair so she can breathe.
Because of the sensitivity of the equipment, it cannot get wet. This makes getting in and out of the car much more difficult, especially when it’s raining.
Keiri is able to move her wheelchair and communicate through eye and lip movement
Through United Way’s Community Solutions program, United Way was able to address what could be done to help this problem.
We reached out to our Community Partner, Habitat for Humanity of Greater Dalton, and we were able to set up a volunteer project to build the Suárez family a carport so that Keiri could get to her doctor’s appointments.
One of the volunteers was Mike, one of the first responders on Keiri’s accident.
“If it weren’t for United Way we wouldn’t have been able to afford a carport which means that Keiri wouldn’t be able to go to her doctor appointments when it’s raining.
This seemingly small addition will give Keiri more freedom and a better quality of life,” stated Keiri’s mother, Sandra.
Keiri and her mother Sandra
Another service that Keiri receives is speech therapy through United Way Community Partner, Looper Speech and Hearing Center.
Sandra said that she has already seen improvements in Keiri’s speech and that the therapy is working to build her lung strength.
Her therapy is working, but the costs necessary to house and also take care of a quadriplegic daughter are very high.
“It’s like bringing home a newborn again. My daughter depends on me in ways that I never imagined for her at twenty years old.”
Keiri before her accident on August 9, 2017
Sandra wants others like her in the community to know the impact of United Way on her family,
“I used to be a donor to United Way prior to the accident, but now we cannot afford it. I never knew I would be on the other side as a recipient of their services. The work United Way does is truly for people who need it. United Way connected people in this community to our needs that otherwise couldn’t have been met.”
With the car accident happening a few days after she started her senior year, Keiri was unable to finish high school, but that hasn’t stopped her.
Even though the accident definitely changed Keiri’s aspirations, she never lost her will to complete goals like getting her GED and finishing high school. Keiri has also created new goals for herself. Someday she wants to be in schools advocating for safer driving and letting people know they aren’t the only ones on the road.
Keiri still pursues life to the fullest. She loves to be outside and the carport allows her to be outside even if it’s raining. Also, her teacher can have an outdoor classroom now. One of her favorite things to look at outside is her mom’s beautiful flower garden.
Even though her circumstances are difficult, Sandra said Keiri’s quality of life has greatly improved. Being trapped in her body and then also being trapped in a house while it’s raining used to make Keiri depressed. But with the help of her carport (which Keiri decided to name “Lola”) Keiri has been given new life.
Keiri underneath her new carport that she named "Lola"
Keiri is an inspiration to us all and a reminder that you never know what today will bring, but we can all make an impact with the life that we have been given.
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