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Aspen teen battles back from catastrophic accident

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DENVER — Craig Hospital is known around the world for helping patients recover from spinal cord injuries and traumatic brain injuries. They have treated more than 30,000 patients since 1956. We are honored to share some of their patients stories. Stories of Hope.

Mackenzie Langley was a skier, a soccer player, a hockey player. Basically, she was one tough teenager. Her mom, Darnell Langley said, “she’s the fighter to the end, that’s always been her nature.” And it would be that fighting spirit that her parents would come to depend on.

They got the call every parent fears on June 23, 2014. Mackenzie was in a serious rollover accident in Aspen. She was airlifted to Denver.

Her father, Bob Langley said, “We didn’t know if we were going to be picking up a corpse or seeing our daughter.”

Mackenzie survived, but she was in the fight of her life.

Mackenzie said, “I actually got fractures in 5 parts of my spine starting at c-1 at the top of my neck. Which is really a God send that didn’t break all the way because that could have been really bad.”

Doctors initially told her she would never walk again. But they didn’t know Mackenzie. Or the work going on at Craig Hospital. Bob Langley said, “Nobody’s who’s at Craig wants to be at Craig. Everybody who is at Craig is glad they are there.”

Mackenzie spends her days learning how to walk again. At Craig, they have a world class, state of the art gym and rehab center, but the therapists will tell you: having a positive outlook is everything. And Mackenzie’s smile and heart are helping her a lot.

Mackenzie said, “it just makes more sense. Having a bad attitude isn’t going to change the situation. Your attitude isn’t going to change whether I’m sitting in this chair or not or whether I didn’t get in the car accident, so I might as well have a positive outlook on what happened. Happened for a reason. Better to look at it that way than be a pessimist about it all.”

And she has a message for others who are suffer spinal cord injuries: “Stay positive, look at the good. Work hard. Don’t let anyone tell you you can’t. A lot of people will tell you you’re never going to walk again, there’s no hope, but if you have the hope, it makes all the difference.”

Mackenzie’s friends and family have been by her side, cheering her on, as well as raising money to help pay for her rehab. Every step of the way, Mackenzie continues to amaze everyone around her.

Her physical therapist said, “I am really proud, she never gives up, always says yes, gives 100 percent.”

Her mother said, “For me it has to come from inside. You have to have faith, that strength and a belief system. Having that and a strong faith give you that extra hope that you’re going to be ok.

To hold onto that hope, that’s what give you the strength to go through it.” Her father said, “We didn’t know what we were going to get back. To have her back. Hallelujah!”

For more information about the amazing work going on at Craig Hospital, visit their website:

For updates on Mackenzie’s progress or to find out how you can help, her friends have set up a Facebook page called “Friends of Mackenzie Langley”:

by Deborah Takahara

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