Paralyzed Richmond Hill teacher receives AMBUCS bike

ByLyndsey Gough|November 11, 2020 at 10:56 PM EST - Updated November 11 at 11:37 PM

RICHMOND HILL, Ga. (WTOC) - Memorial Day weekend, Richmond Hill Middle School teacher Valerie Feske was celebrating the holiday with her family, when a freak-accident on an inflatable waterslide caused a devastating spinal cord injury.

She received a gift on Wednesday night that may seem small to some, but for Feske, it meant regaining a sense of normal in her every-day routine.

“In the past my kids and I would go bike riding in the neighborhood, so I’m glad I’m still able to do that with them. We’ll have to take it slow at first, maybe just go down to the end of the cul-de-sac here, but as my endurance increases, hopefully we can cruise the whole neighborhood," Feske said.

Feske’s accident paralyzed her from the chest down, and she’s working to hopefully regain full use of her arms and hands, but it didn’t take away her smile or her sense of determination.

“I still have my brains and whit about me, so I’m fortunate,” Feske added.

She was in ICU at Memorial Health in Savannah, and then spent some five months at the Shephard Center in Atlanta, which specializes in brain and spinal cord injuries. Because of COVID-19, she didn’t have visitors except through a fence 10-feet away.

Feske has been home for three weeks, and is happy to be back with her family and her two kids.

“That’s the best part of being home, is just being with them," Feske said. "They come home from school, wash their hands, and give me a big hug. I get to do homework with them again. That’s been great- studying for tests, just that normalcy of mom being back home.”

Facebookhas given her a support system, where they have helped raise funds for things like making her home more accessible. It also made her new AMBUCS bike possible, which gives her an opportunity to build strength and exercise, and spend precious time with her kids.

“She rode a bike at Shephard- it’s very similar to this, and they were interested in having a bike when they get home, and somebody posted it on Facebook and tagged me, I responded, and Bret, Valerie’s husband and I have been going back-and-forth," explained Kevin Sheehan, the President of the Savannah chapter of AMBUCS. "We happened to get this bike back from somebody that could not use it, and it’s the perfect bike for Valerie.”

Feske has had to re-learn how to do most things, and is still making progress nearly six-months later- just regaining use of her thumbs. She says the support of the community has made all of the difference.

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Photo: WTOC

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