Day 8 after the flood – an amazing coincidence

Mackenzie Saunders (11) before her soccer injury.

If there is one thing the last eight days have taught me, it’s that you never know what a day will bring.

And you never truly know how connected you are to others until you are forced — or force yourself — beyond the boundaries of your comfortable, predictable routine.

This is the story of how our Great Office Flood of 2010 converged with the biggest trauma in a young girl’s life — and the magazine article that one of our staff members wrote about her.

During a soccer game in December, 11-year-old Mackenzie Saunders sustained a devastating, extremely rare injury during a soccer game and was left partially paralyzed. Health Matters writer Vicki Louk Balint, who was researching a story about preventing soccer injuries, found out about Mackenzie and wrote about her experience in our April 2010 magazine.

On March 11, while that issue was still at the printer, I was sitting at the kitchen table eating my breakfast when I looked up to see Mackenzie and her family on NBC’s Today Show.

Then, last week, I picked up the phone to find that it was Mackenzie’s mom, Liz, on the other line. She works with J&M Restoration, Inc., the company that has spearheaded disaster-recovery efforts at our flooded office.

“I was hoping I’d get to talk with you!” she said. “When I heard that our crew was out at Raising Arizona Kids I couldn’t believe it. Thank you so much for the wonderful story you did about Mackenzie!”

I asked how Mackenzie is doing now. Liz told me she’s been out of her wheelchair since March 25. She has physical therapy three times a week, focusing largely on regaining control of her right foot and leg. Mackenzie has “plateaus and then advances,” Liz says. Her most recent victory was being able to “run” four small steps.

Mackenzie’s spinal cord injury “pinched off oxygen to her nerves for three days,” Liz says. “The nerves are like a phone cord. Once they get damaged, they regenerate very, very slowly. When you think of bones, they heal in about six weeks. We’re looking at 12 to 16 months.”

This summer, Mackenzie will do a lot of swimming (something she’s done every year since before she could walk). She’s also exploring non-soccer interests. Her plans include a three-week arts academy and a three-week speech and debate camp.

“Besides soccer, she didn’t skip a beat,” Liz said. “This never has been devastating for her. She thinks that come December she’ll be trying out for the soccer team.”

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One response to “Day 8 after the flood – an amazing coincidence

  1. WOW! glad to hear how Mackenzie is doing. what a small world!!

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