Paralyzed girl, 17, continues progress


Fundraisers set for this, next weekend

UNION — It hasn’t been easy, but 17-year-old Abby Marsh is slowly making progress.

The senior soccer star from Ryle High School was a passenger in a pickup truck on May 21 near Warsaw when the truck slid off the slick road and hit a tree.

Abby suffered a severe spinal cord injury, leaving her paralyzed from the neck down, and had to undergo an immediate 12-hour surgery to reconstruct her neck.

Today, she has movement in her arms and is in very good spirits. She has a long road ahead but is ready for the challenge.

“She has a great attitude,” said her mother, Reta Marsh, “and she believes in the power of faith.”

From 7 p.m. to midnight Saturday, friends of the family will hold “Marsh Madness” at Turfway Park. The fundraiser, open to the public, will feature auctions, raffles, dancing and all you can eat and drink. Tickets are $25 per person, $45 for couples and $15 for those under 21.

The money will go to the Marsh family for medical bills and to renovate their home to make it wheelchair accessible.

As a prelude to the fundraiser, movie star and former Ryle student Josh Hutcherson held an online auction this past week that raised roughly $12,500 for the family. The auction was for five people (and a guest with each person) to have dinner with Hutcherson this weekend at an undisclosed location.

“While I don’t know Abby or her family personally, sharing a hometown and high school with her made this story very close to my heart,” Hutcherson said in a statement through his publicist. “I wanted to do anything that I could to help raise money and awareness for her and her family and this seemed like a great way to contribute.”

And just as Abby continues to stay positive, there’s no stopping her supporters. They’ve already scheduled a different type of fundraiser for Aug. 25, a 5k walk/run, which they’re calling “March for Marsh.”

Abby was conscious and alert after the accident, Reta said, but had no feeling from the neck down. Her lung collapsed four days later and she had to have a tracheostomy. She was on a ventilator around the clock but now uses it only at night.

This week, she put her shirt on by herself for the first time, and though she cannot move her fingers, she has figured out how to use her iPad.

“Her face just lights up when she’s on that iPad,” Reta said. “She gets on Facebook and is able to stay in touch with her friends.”

Abby has received a lot of emotional support from her friends at church and students at Ryle. One of her goals is to graduate with her senior class in June.

“She was ahead of the curve and only needs four credit hours to graduate,” Reta said.

Abby’s stay at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center is indefinite, and how much feeling will return throughout her body remains to be seen.

One of her short-term goals is to get well enough to attend her brother’s wedding in California next month. It’s ambitious – but that’s Abby.

“She’s a fighter,” Reta said. “We’re praying and believing for the best.”

Written by
William Croyle

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