Star, Idaho — Just months after a violent crash left 12-year-old Meghan Wildman paralyzed from the waist down, she is proving that you don’t need the use of your legs to dance.
On March 16th, 2013, the Wagner family was involved in terrible car accident that injured Trina Holley-Wagner and all five of her kids. Meghan was the most seriously injured.
“We found out that she had a neck injury, a blood clot at the base of her brain, and a spinal cord injury on her lower back,” said Trina. “She was paralyzed from the waist down. Pretty devastating … We just didn’t know how it was going to be for her.”
Megan was transported from Boise to Portland for seven weeks of intense physical rehab.
She’s a dancer, and losing that part of her life was unbearable.
“One of the first things she said is ‘I’ll never dance again,’ and it just broke her heart,” said Trina. “I said ‘it’s not over Meghan, it’s not over, and you can get up and dance again. You can do this.'”
With her parents by her side, Meghan found the will to persevere.
“At first I didn’t want to do anything because I thought I couldn’t do anything,” Meghan said. “But once I got the hang of being in a wheelchair, I started doing all these things.”
When Meghan finally came home in May, she was ready to try to dance again. That’s where her dance teacher, Amber Barnes, came in.
“I just knew when I heard that she was paralyzed from the waist down, and wasn’t going to be able to dance as she has been dancing that I had to figure out a way that she could come back to dance class,” said Barnes.
She decided that she would help Meghan dance in her wheelchair at her spring recital. After a lot of practice, the day of the recital came, and Meghan danced on stage in her wheelchair, showing that dancing truly does come from the heart.
“Everybody backstage was in tears, just to see the courage that Meghan had when she was up there,” said Barnes. “And she danced as if she wasn’t in a wheelchair.”
“She got a standing ovation at the end and Dad and I were in the back crying because it just means a lot to us,” said Trina.
For Meghan, the accomplishment meant a lot. “I just feel like I’m encouraging people and showing them that I can dance in a wheelchair,” she said.
Meghan is a survivor, and a miracle. Her goal is to walk again, and to one day dance on her feet.
“I see a courage in her and a willingness to do all the things she feels challenged to do,” said Trina. “She believes if she keeps trying, she can get back up on her feet again.”
Amber Barnes is now working on an adaptive dance program to help more kids just like Meghan who love to dance. You can find out more here.
For more information on the Wagner family, and Meghan’s struggle and triumph, click here.
by Maggie O’Mara