To see how she's been able to overcome adversity, just with life and things that she has ahead of her, it's just inspiring. —Detective Ed Malm
RIVERTON — Kendra Muller says she was always an independent kid until a freak accident paralyzed her a year ago.
It's been tough for the 14-year-old, who who loved to run, play soccer and set a fast pace for fun with her friends, to now ask for help with things that were simple in the past.
On Friday, she got a lift from some new friends — members of the local police precinct — who stepped up to restore some of that independence she lost.
With the rip of some police tape stretched across the door, Kendra officially had a renovated bathroom to accommodate her mobility in a wheelchair.
She said the biggest help will be the open shower. "Before there was a big lip so I couldn't roll my wheelchair in and take a shower," she said. "I couldn't be independent in doing a normal thing that everybody needs to do."
Kendra can roll right up to the sink, too, without bumping her legs and wheelchair against the cabinet under the sink. "I couldn't really reach the sink because there was a cabinet below, but now, I can go right up to it and turn on the water," she said.
Kendra was paralyzed a year ago this month when she piled into a hammock with four friends and a brick support column crumbled on top of her. She broke her spine, ribs, neck, collar bone and shoulder blades. She spent the summer at Primary Children's Medical Center. The first part of her stay she couldn't talk and was on a ventilator, but she improved quickly.
Today, she perseveres with this positive attitude: "Not to take what you have for granted because it can all change," she said, describing her outlook. "Some people always have it worse off than you. So, really not to complain."
Kendra still has the use of her arms, and she's thankful for that. She goes to therapy two times a week to keep getting stronger.
The Riverton Precinct of the Unified Police Department raised more than $15,000 for the project with the help of Oquirrh Hills Middle School and local businesses.
"It's fun to be part of trying to make a difference,” said Rod Norton, precinct chief.
They regularly help several families during the Christmas holiday with their Holiday Heroes program. When they heard about Kendra and the unique challenges she faced, physically and financially, they got involved.
"It tugged on all of our heartstrings," Norton said. "So we took what was just a small effort and reached out to the businesses and the middle school and asked them to help with something more significant this year."
After they raised the money, the police officers worked with Utah's Heart 2 Home Foundation for its expertise with the bathroom renovations.
Detective Ed Malm is pretty sure the police officers got just as much satisfaction out of their new friendships as Kendra and her family.
"To see how she's been able to overcome adversity, just with life and things that she has ahead of her, it's just inspiring," Malm said.
The family expressed appreciation to everyone who has stepped up to help.
This year, Kendra said she plans to get back to her normal said she plans to "party with my friends, go to some camps and stuff like that."
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