Carol, a self-described “feisty Czech woman,” has certainly been through a lot. On March 3rd, 1985, she was in a car accident on I-70 in Colorado that left her with brain and spinal cord injuries, and incapable of speech. Since then, she has had 27 surgeries to deal with her spinal cord injury and the resulting toll the accident had on her body. It took her 9 months to regain the power of speech, and longer to relearn how to write. Her daughter was 10 at the time, and was suddenly deprived of the mother that she knew. Carol remembered how lonely it was to be able to hear her loved ones talk about her as if she wasn’t in the room, and how much it hurt to not be able to communicate with them. She wrote a manuscript on living with brain injury, at the encouragement of her doctor. She dedicated her time to helping others suffering from brain injuries, and was an active member of the Brain injury Association of Colorado for many years. She recorded medical textbooks for the blind for 3 years before her last surgery, but her vocal chords were injured in an 8.5-hour surgery in 2008, and she had to stop her volunteer work.
Carol’s wish was to visit the places she lived and the people she knew when she was in her twenties. As a young woman, Carol worked as a lab tech to help her single mother support her family. She saved up for four years so that she could go to Europe. At the time, she was one of the few young Americans living in Germany, and made friends easily. She worked in two different labs in Germany, and took a technical German course so she could communicate effectively at work. She also worked in a resort hotel as a concierge and bellhop, at which time she was “like a sponge that gathered” German culture. While in Germany, she made good friends with a man named Ekkehard. He liked the same things she did, and the two became fast friends. When Carol moved back to the United States, she kept in touch with Ekkehard. He even came to the United States when Carol got married, so that he could make sure her fiancée was good enough for her. They maintained their friendship through letters, written in both German and English so as to keep up their language skills. It was Carol’s dearest wish to see Ekkehard again and meet his wife and family in Germany.
In September of 2011, Carol took the trip of a lifetime and got to reunite with her friend from many years ago. It was truly an amazing experience that Carol will never forget. “I could not grasp that anyone so loving and caring would do this for me, because it seemed like an impossible dream…It’s such a wonderful and touching experience,” said Carol after her wish. “You have impacted my life in such a way that I’ll never be the same.” Sadly, Carol passed away in early 2013, but her optimism, beauty and strength live on in all who knew her.