Emily Progin, PR and Communications Coordinator
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31-YEAR-OLD WITH QUADRIPLEGIA SEEKS INDEPENDENCE AFTER TRAGIC ACCIDENT
“Don’t Look at Me with Sad Eyes” Says Tempe’s Kylie Thompson
TEMPE, Ariz.—In 2006, Kylie Thompson was in the car with her family when a semi-truck pushed her off the road in a shocking hit-and-run. Her six-year-old stepsister was killed, and Kylie broke her neck, severing her spinal cord and leaving her a quadriplegic. Today, instead of looking at her with pity, Kylie urges others to understand her reality and support her ongoing quest for independence.
After the accident, Kylie said it took months to transition from intubated hospitalized recovery to living at home again. In the subsequent eight years, she experienced the steep learning curve of life with a spinal cord injury, enduring medical setbacks, hospitalizations, surgeries, infections, transfusions, and more. “I’ve honestly lost track of all I had to deal with during that time,” she said.
In 2014, she finally experienced a breakthrough: she enrolled in Arizona State University for creative writing and moved into an on-campus apartment. With help from caregivers and the ASU staff, Kylie was able to experience a new level of convenience, mobility, and independence. With a new group of friends—the first non-online friends she had made since the accident—she began to travel and socialize again.
Her world re-opened: “I tasted freedom,” she said.
It didn’t take long for Kylie to realize there was one thing standing in the way of an even more mobile, independent, and connected future: her own accessible vehicle. Kylie learned that she could get a permit and license and drive again while living with quadriplegia, but she would need a vehicle first. The cost? Around $50,000, which her insurance refuses to offset or pay.
That’s when Kylie started a verified, tax-deductible fundraising campaign with the national nonprofit Help Hope Live at https://helphopelive.org/campaign/17374/. She has raised $2,500 towards her $50,000 goal so far.
COVID-19 has introduced even more mobility challenges to Kylie’s daily life because her spinal cord injury puts her at exceptionally high risk of contracting the disease. “I don’t want to risk taking public transportation or rideshares—I’m not willing to compromise my health to go anywhere,” she explained. “I’m pretty much stuck in my apartment now.”
The last thing Kylie wants is to beg or plead for help. “I never want to use my disability to guilt people into helping me,” she said. “I’m asking now because this van will literally change my life. I could see more of my city and state, move up at work, go to the store myself—I’d even love to go through a drive-thru! Transportation is a luxury that’s so easy to take for granted.”
Make a donation in honor of Kylie R Thompson at https://helphopelive.org/campaign/17374/. Donations are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law, and all funds raised will be managed by the nonprofit to cover only verified expenses, including the cost of an accessible van. Help Hope Live verifies medical and financial need for every patient.
Help Hope Live is a national nonprofit that specializes in engaging communities in secure, tax-deductible fundraising campaigns for people who need a transplant or are affected by a catastrophic injury or illness. Since 1983, campaigns organized by Help Hope Live have raised over $145 million to pay patient expenses. ##Written by Emily Progin