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Shaela Warkentin, almost a year later

Thursday, March 01, 2012

It's been almost a year since a tragic accident drastically changed the lives of a sixteen-year-old Fresno girl, and her friends and family.

Shaela lost her sight in the accident, but she's gained a great deal of insight as a result.

From a distance, Shaela Warkentin is like any other 16-year-old American girl. She chats easily with friends, giggles about escapades of her fellow classmates, and in between tries to apply herself to her school work. But Shaela has had to work much harder at normalcy than her peers. A tragic car accident March 8th of last year nearly took her life.

At the time, her parents Ken and Lisa Warkentin didn't know if Shaela would live to see her next birthday.

Back then, Ken said, "There's a great deal of glass in her brain and in an area that's too dangerous to remove."

Many surgeries and much heartache and triumph later, Shaela returned to school. Blind in both eyes, but determined to overcome.

"I try not to take things for granted," said Shaela. "I mean, who doesn't take their vision for granted. And now that I don't have it, I look back on that."

It's been a journey of highs and lows for Shaela. Learning to depend on friends and family to help her dress and do her hair, depending on teachers to help her navigate her way around a classroom.

Her ceramics teacher Stephen Cox explained, "She had a big learning curve to learn how to move around and be as independent as possible. And so at the beginning there was a one on one aid that would work with her and I'd say after about two to three months she started getting comfortable in here."

Through it all, Shaela has continued to move forward. And her friends have learned some important lessons along the way.

One of Shaela's close friends, Molly Fink said, "It caused a lot of people to unite, especially a lot of her friends. They were just able to come together. I mean you're experiencing the same thing so it does bring everyone closer, tragedy does that."

Shaela has not allowed her circumstances to dictate her dreams, and one of those dreams has been to sing the national anthem at a baseball game.

Wednesday, she got the chance to do just that at the opening game for Bullard High School's baseball season.

Again, Shaela steps out, and moves forward on her journey.

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