SACRAMENTO, CA – Tresa Honaker has adapted to life’s changes with an unwavering resolve and trust.
“It’s the hardest work I’ve ever done in my life,” Honaker said.
Honaker, a lifelong dancer, discovered her love for aerial work in 2002. Hanging in the balance is where the Grass Valley woman felt most grounded.
But then came a crippling blow about 3 years ago during rehearsal. “On fabric, we call it a drop where we change from high to low level,” Honaker explained. “And I had found something new and I thought what I saw on the internet was everything that I needed and it wasn’t.”
Honaker fell 15 feet. She severed her spinal cord, and has no feeling below her waist. Doctors told her she’d never walk again.
“My whole life has been about movement and I kept saying that, ‘no I don’t want to live this way, no I don’t want to live this way,'” Honaker added. “People were saying now you can dance as a wheelchair dancer, and I was like okay I could do that, but I really want to walk again.”
Then she discovered SCI-FIT, a rehab facility which specializes in spinal cord injuries.”It was really helpful then because I was surrounded by likeminded people, people who believed there was a possibility of recovery,” Honaker said.
SCI-FIT even allowed her to install aerial equipment in the Sacramento facility, which she used with her boyfriend, Joe, by her side. She’s in twice a week.
“Recently she’s been able to fire muscles below her belly button in her abdominals,” SCI-FIT facility manager and trainer Kayla Robertson said. Her core strengthened. She can stabilize her hips and pull her legs through on her own while she’s walking.
Her trainers are encouraged, but they aren’t surprised. Honaker’s sheer grit and determination is evident at every session. She’s learned each step is a step forward.
“I always am a person who wants a lot,” Honaker said. “And with this injury, I found out the little things do matter.” Earlier this year, she returned to her native Minnesota and got back up in the air for the first time.
“Just like when I was able to feel the rope again and be assisted to climb again makes me really happy,” Honaker said.
Tresa’s passion lies in the freedom of flight. She still teaches aerial classes. She also hopes to return to the stage one day.
But will she ever walk again?
“It’s hard to say exactly what amount of function she’s going to get back,” Robertson said. “But being able to feel below her level of injury, firing the muscles below level of injury, it gives us hope for the future with Tresa.”
Honaker also knows that the fight she’s putting up is worth it.
“When I’m here, I feel like my body remembers what it was like before my accident,” Honaker said. “I can feel it, I can feel something so familiar. So I know this is a part of it.”
Siemny Chhuon, KXTV