My dearest family and friends,
It is hard to believe that this past July 10, 2021 marked four years since my cycling accident resulting in a catastrophic spinal cord injury. I was (and still am) shocked and devastated by the cruel unpredictability of life. And, although it may seem like time has flown, it hasn’t for me. It has been a grueling 1,460 days and I would not have been able to get this far without your unwavering love and support.
July 2, 2021
My Original Story 2018
It could have been any one of us.
On July 8th, 2017, Laurina was boasting to her family that she planned to dance all night long at her cousins wedding in Cincinnati. And, she did just that.
A mere 48 hours later, on July 10th, she was back in Atlanta, back to her beautiful home and her fulfilling job, doing what she always does after work…ride her bike. Riding was her way of relaxing her body, mind, and spirit and simply recharging.
On her ride that evening, it was a simple left turn, too much loose gravel in the middle of the street and a cruel fate that caused the back tire of Laurina’s bike to slide out from under her and she crashed to the ground. But, in this instance, what would have been a messy “wipe out” left her paralyzed and changed, forever. Laurina would not return home again for eight months.
Laurina was taken to Grady Hospital where her MRI showed an acute traumatic fracture to her cervical 5th and 6th vertebrae, which led to emergency spinal surgery and two weeks in ICU. From there, she was admitted to Shepherd Spinal Center where she received intensive inpatient Physical Therapy and Outpatient Therapy for eight months.
Upon her discharge from Shepherd Spinal Center in a new power wheelchair, Laurina’s home could no longer accommodate her. Fortunately, she had dear friends (turned family) gracious enough to open their handicap-accessible home to her as she continued the grueling work of outpatient physical therapy. It wasn’t until five months later that she returned to her home where she was reunited with her longtime companion, Kai, her Siberian Husky.
Today, Laurina remains paralyzed from the chest down, with only partial use of her hands. Now, a year later, she continues to be the consummate fighter. With unwavering resolve she spends her days developing creative solutions to the challenges of being paralyzed and navigating a partially independent life. Without a part-time in-home caregiver, friends (turned family), and Becky, her amazing partner, none of these triumphs would have been possible.
Laurina Tells Us How She Feels:
I feel both sad and angry. At times, really, really friggin’ sad and really friggin angry! But I won’t let my life be stolen from me. Clearly, I have to modify my activities but I’ll be damned if I’ll let the things in life that bring me pleasure get ripped away from me.
At times, I am terrified. Terrified that friends will go away; that I’ll be forgotten; that the cost for health insurance and medical treatment will be more than I can afford and that I’ll have insufficient healthcare and die a sickly death, alone.
I also feel terrified that I won’t have a caregiver like the one I have now; and that maintaining my home will be too costly – more than I can manage – and I’ll lose it; my sanctuary, the last piece of the original “me” that exists.
But, more often, I feel grateful to have such great friends who have rallied around me. They’re giving me unending love and encouragement that is getting me through each day, week, month and the past year…
But…the real adventure has just begun
A friend described what Laurina’s new life is all about and this is how she phrased it: “She’s re-inventing herself and her life from the inside out.”
There are still countless hurdles to overcome. For our fiercely independent Laurina, the time has come for our dear friend, colleague and teammate to exercise a new muscle; being strong enough to ask for your help.
These are four things that she needs most:
• The Consistent use of therapeutic equipment that will let her reach her goal of walking again
• To regain her independence and autonomy
• The ability to participate in the many activities she enjoys like visiting friends, walking her dog, feeding the wild birds in her yard, gardening and kayaking
• Check in to see how she’s doing…on the phone or pay her a visit. If she’s feeling up to it, she’d love the company!
These are the priceless ways your contribution can help make a difference:
• Home Modifications
Modification to her bathroom and kitchen that will make a significant difference in the quality of her daily life. These enhancements will enable her to prepare meals for herself as well as bathe herself.
• Van Modifications ($5,000):
Laurina has just completed her driving evaluation and is looking forward to being able to have her van modified so she can drive, independently. The modifications, although expensive, will be recouped as they will eliminate some of the costs and efforts related to having others drive her to the grocery store, doctor and physical therapy appointments, etc.
• The Purchase of a RT300 FES SL Leg Cycle ($12,000):
This device gets her legs moving. It promotes circulation in the legs and helps reduce muscle spasms in Laurina’s legs, which often keep her up at night. This cycle also enhances mobility when she does transfers from bed to chair or from chair to car, which keeps her safer.
• The Purchase of a Standing Frame ($2,900):
When Laurina is securely strapped into this piece of equipment, it gradually assists her body in achieving a standing position. It’s crucial for her recovery because by bearing weight on her legs, it encourages her muscles to kick in. This is one of her best opportunities to regain some movement, so that she will eventually be able to walk.
A Note from Laurina’s Village
We are Laurina’s village and we have a deep stake in her life. By sharing her story with you, we are asking you to recognize an uncomfortable truth: this could have happened to any one of us. By giving to Laurina, we acknowledge the powerlessness of life and see that randomness does not discriminate. By giving to our dear Laurina in her time of need, we each get a chance to participate in restoring the life that she loves. And, for us, we can find grace in making peace with a new normal.
With grace and love,
Becky, Kelly, Jill, Kim, Robin, Caryn
Please follow your heart to Help Hope Live:
go to DONATE
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Type in Laurina Florio
Help Hope Live is a 501(c)(3) organization that distributes funds strictly to pay for Laurina’s medical necessities, such as van modifications, medicine, rehabilitation and caregivers. Your contributions are tax deductible
Photo Galleries (5)
October 3, 2021
Laurina, Your sheer determination and courage amazes me daily! You have managed to keep a positive outlook while facing such tremendous hurdles. Your smile lights up a room! Much love, positive energy and prayers abound.
October 3, 2021
You never cease to amaze me with your determination, outlook, and wit. You make me smile, laugh, and think. Sending you love and positive thoughts, energy, and prayers.
August 29, 2021
Laurina, We love you, support you, and are so incredibly proud of you! XO The Henderson’s
Patty & Taylor Henderson
August 26, 2021
Laurina, I’m a Psi Gamma alumna (pledged in 1995) and friends with Sheri Salter Lilly. I’m moved by your story and want you to be able to get all the equipment you need to heal.