All was roses for Gina Springhower, until one fateful day, when she was given the worst news of her life, that she would never walk on her own again.
It was on March 12, 2008, when Gina, an active 21-year-old college student at Wayne State College Nebraska got involved in a terrible accident that left her paralyzed.
Growing up, Gina had worked for and thrived on her independence, even as a young college student. She said, “I had more than 80 kids enrolled in my own gymnastics gym, it was great money for a college student. I was independent.”
The events that led up to the accident weren’t out of the ordinary. She had gone out to the bars with friends and been invited to an after-hours party. She’d wanted to drive herself but when an acquaintance said “trust me,” she got in the vehicle instantly and sat on the front passenger’s lap, unbuckled.
The Silk Road lets you experience ancient history firsthand She recalled vividly that the driver was driving perfectly well when she first got into the car. But a sharp curve approached. The vehicle spun out of control all of a sudden, hitting a light post, flipping multiple times, ejecting Gina and finally coming to a rest.
She woke up face down. She could feel her arms, though the vehicle had come to a rest on one, sadly she could not feel her legs. The other passenger and the driver walked away from the accident. Gina, on the other hand, was flown to Sioux City, where she spent a week before she was transferred to an Omaha hospital.
She said, “I went from being a 21-year-old, independent woman to being a 21-year-old infant,” Gina spent all of April in the hospital and May through October as an outpatient. It was a hard time for the 21-year-old.
By January 2009, she was back at school with her own special Ford F-150 truck. Less than a year later, in October 2009, Gina reconnected with John Springhower, the man who would meet her at the end of the aisle five years later. They had gone to Glenwood High School together.
Gina says she was the “dorky freshman who noticed him” when John was a senior. John had run into Gina’s father and asked about her. Gina’s dad suggested to John that he should give her a call. “It was the only time my dad’s matchmaking setup worked,” she laughed.
John Springhower proposed to her at a Beauty and the Beast show in Omaha in December 2010. Gina, a self-proclaimed Disney buff, was very skeptical when he insisted on a photo after the show, but ecstatic when he dropped to one knee. Gina insisted on a long engagement.
She wanted to walk down the aisle. So they waited. Gina graduated from college. In February, she began decided to start on working her way to standing at the back of the aisle, ready to march toward her soon-to-be husband, John. She said she did therapy up until the week before her wedding.
“It starts with stretching. Just stretching to get into the braces. Once I got used to them, I got in a harness with the braces. I got used to that, then in the braces using a walker, then progressing to full-arm crutches.” Gina said It was a slow and difficult process, but Gina soldiered on, she refused to give up so easily.
From the belly button down, Gina said, she could feel nothing when bearing weight. She said the best she can describe it is the tingling you might feel when one of your limbs falls asleep. Eventually, she started healing slowly but steadily, she was able to ditch one crutch and use her dad as support.
For the next several months, they practiced their walk down the aisle. On September 13, Gina and John said their ‘I dos.’ Gina stood up for countless photos and hugged people she hadn’t hugged in a long, long time — upright. She stood up to dance with the two most important men in her life – both her husband and her father. She hadn’t stood that long — roughly six and a half hours — since 2008.
It was a great achievement. John and Gina took a road-trip-style honeymoon through the Badlands of South Dakota, through Montana and Idaho before settling down in McClelland, Iowa, where John runs his own heating and cooling business and farms his grandparents’ land.
Gina works part-time at a law office and has taken over her dad’s tumbling gym. She also travels to schools, telling her story, shaping it to the audience. At least something good came out of the terrible accident.
“I talk about the dangers of getting in cars with drunk drivers to older kids. I talk about nothing holding you back from your dreams to 65 younger kids.” She said. Through it all, John has been by her side, he was always there for her, both physically and emotionally.
He’s a researcher,” she said. “He has taken all this on, full-throttle.” Especially in the past week, when media outlets like People and Huffington Post called to get their story, spreading it to huge audiences. Gina continues to demonstrate her upbeat demeanor, enthusiasm and sense of humor on her website called www.perfectlyimperfectgina.com.
“Twenty-one years of my life I spent walking, tumbling, dancing and playing sports. Today, I still do all of those things with one little change, I roll.” Surprisingly, on her wedding day, Gina didn’t care about the perfect flowers, beautiful gown or other things a bride might spend hours dwelling on. Gina Springhower’s dad, Gary, whispered in her ear after one of the shortest, but hardest, walks of her life.
It wasn’t a trek up a mountain or across a desert. It was the walk down the aisle of her wedding. The only dream she had was to walk on her own. She said she loves to do things that people told her she can not do. She wanted to prove the doctors wrong who told her she would never walk again.