OREM Three months after a terrible accident, the support group for Tori Schmanski continues to grow.
Tori, a 14-year-old from Orem, was in a car accident June 19 and spent almost 15 minutes trapped in a car submerged upside down in a lake. She has been in Primary Children's Medical Center since the accident, battling pneumonia, feeding tube mishaps and even septic shock.
Still, her family has rallied, doing what they can to make life easier for her.
"It's a challenge, but I think it's brought us a lot closer in a lot of ways," said her father Tim Schmanski. "It's going to take us all to help bring Tori as far as possible. We're all trying to contribute. We're all committed to helping her get the highest quality of life possible. It's not easy, but we're going to give her that shot."
Lately, Tori has been going through rehabilitation, trying to gain movement and stability. When supported, she can move her hands and arms, sit up and even stand.
Now, Tori must gain weight. Since the accident, her dad said, she has lost 25 pounds, which doesn't leave her body with enough fat for her digestive system to work properly. At the hospital, she is fed high-calorie meals through a tube to her intestines because her stomach is still too weak to handle food.
One frightening glitch happened when her feeding tube came loose. She vomited and inhaled some of the vomit, which led to her third bout with pneumonia.
"Those are the challenges and you just have to deal with them," Tim Schmanski said.
Tim Schmanski and his wife, Maria, are on a rotation. One night, Maria will sleep in the chair in Tori's room, the next night is Tim's turn. For 89 days, Tori has never been a night without a parent at her side.
But it's not just parental support that is helping Tori pull through.
For Every Body, a bath and body and candle manufacturer based in Lindon, has created a new line of candles especially for Tori. All proceeds go to the Schmanski family.
The candles, which come in six scents, including tropical mango, plumeria and apple pie, feature a picture of Tori on the front, as well as sparkles and a small image of a dancer or ballet shoes on the top of the candle. In less than two weeks, For Every Body has already sold 70 candles $14 each through their stores; the Schmanski's Web site, www.pray4tori.com; and The Dance Club, where Tori was an avid dancer.
"It's amazing to be a part of something that will help someone else so much," said Shannon Young, a representative of For Every Body. "I think as a company, everyone's aware of her situation and wanting to help, so it's really neat to be a part of it."
And the family says it is grateful for the support they have and continue to receive. Family members tend Tori's two younger siblings. Neighbors shower the family with love and support. Even strangers stop to ask how they can help."We rely on a lot of the prayers and support out there from friends, family, even strangers," Tim Schmanski said. "It helps keep us going."
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