HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - A tragic accident left a Harrison County teen confined to a wheelchair. Five months later, she overcame tremendous obstacles to reach her dreams. The young lady is now an inspiration to others.
Monday was the first day of practice for the Harrison Central High School Color Guard. For freshman Emily Oliver, she had to learn every toss and twirl while sitting in a wheelchair.
"My knees get in the way. I hit the chair sometimes. I mean, it's just hard," said Oliver.
The 15-year-old student has been through more trauma and heartache than most teenagers. Last Christmas, family friend L.J. Montgomery took Oliver on a ride along Fire Tower Road. The car crashed into a tree. Oliver said Montgomery shielded her body right before impact.
"He gave me his life. I'm not going to sit here and be miserable about it. It's disrespectful to him," said Oliver.
Despite being paralyzed from the waist down and suffering multiple, severe injuries, she never felt sorry for herself.
"A lot of people just said I dealt with it better than most people did. But, I mean, it's legs. It's not my life," said Oliver. "At first it was really hard, but after a while, I got used to it. So if I walk, I walk. If I don't, I'm fine with it. It doesn't really bother me. I mean, it's me."
The determined young lady endured months of hospitalization and rehab. Last month, she returned to school and is now fulfilling another dream, joining the flag line.
"I was excited and nervous. I just like to prove people wrong. Everyone that says I can't, I'm going to do it just because you said it."
Her persistence is inspiring her peers.
"It makes them want to work harder, because they see someone who can't even stand on her own two feet and try just as hard to get the same routines. She never gives up," said Color Guard Director Amber Theriot.
"It just makes me happy knowing I make other people happy. I know the accident was a bad situation, but if you look at it in a certain way, it made my life better. I have more friends and see how many people care about me," said Oliver.
Emily Oliver also learned how to swim, and in July she plans to go fishing with WLOX Outdoor Reporter Al Jones.