“I know God has a bigger plan for my life. Otherwise I wouldn’t be here today. My best friend didn’t survive the accident, but I know I am here to serve a greater purpose in the lives of others, and Sarah is my inspiration for continuing to persevere through challenges I am confronted with.”
“I have learned to cherish every single moment as if it’s my last. I appreciate the little things more, like conversations with my parents at night and the radiant smiles from strangers out in public. The high school basketball games that I always took for granted. I look forward to family time and church. Life is beautiful.”
Heroes are notable in our society precisely because they are rare. When we meet someone heroic, we are often caught speechless. It is one thing to see someone acting heroically and quite another to meet them in person.
Kathryn Granger and her mother, Julie, are such heroes. They are the founders of Sister-Bear, a nonprofit serving adults who have suffered traumatic injuries in the greater Amarillo region.
Heroes are made through hardship and tragedy, and the story of Kathryn Granger follows this road.
In 2018, 16-year-old Kathryn Granger and her friend were on a road trip. They stopped to do some sightseeing and were struck by a vehicle. Kathryn’s friend, Sarah, died in the accident, while Kathryn survived and began a new journey.
The accident occurred a month before Kathryn’s 17th birthday. She spent most of March and April of 2018 in the hospital, her injuries paralyzing her from the chest down.
After the hospital stay that saved her life, she moved to Baylor’s in-person rehab center before returning home a little over a month later.
Kathryn worked hard at physical therapy, and today her life is moving forward in exciting new ways.
From tragedy to making a difference
Trauma is devastating, and many of us personally know someone who has suffered because of it. However, it is remarkable to see the difference Kathryn, her mom, and their nonprofit is making in people’s lives.
With Kathryn’s mother, Julie as the founder and Board President, Sister-Bear’s mission is:
“To provide access to adaptive fitness and wellness resources for adults recovering from a stroke, spinal cord or brain injury, or other neurologic events to improve their health, functionality, and quality of life.”
Julie Granger told me they focus on adults because most available services for specific injuries focus on children—leaving significant gaps for those over a certain age.
Gain visibility and increase grants to help more people
There is no guidebook for people who suffer trauma; every person’s journey through it is unique. So, as hard as it is to recover, Kathryn and Julie chose to go a step further and help others who might be having challenges from their own trauma.
Sister-Bear is putting on their fourth annual ‘Sister-Bear Shoot’ on September 24th at River Breaks Ranch, Texas. You can see the fundraising flier HERE, and it’s going to be a fun day of shooting clay pigeons with shotguns, a concert, horse races, and a BBQ dinner.
“Year to date, we’ve been able to award $17,000 in grants, and we’re hoping to find more people in need we can help,” Julie told me. “Not everyone in the Amarillo region knows we’re here, and we’re hoping to increase our visibility so we can award more grants.”
“We couldn’t do this without our sponsors,” Julie said, “and thanks to companies like Pattern Energy and others, we can do this important work and help people. We’re so thankful.”
Kathryn Granger, success story
Kathryn, now 22, recently became a homeowner and graduated from Amarillo College.
She’s planning to continue her education at West Texas A&M University and plans to be a teacher.
Currently, she works at an after-school program for elementary school students and says her wheelchair was an instant subject of interest for the children. Still, now she says they understand more than before they met her and realize she is the same as anyone else.
“Working with the kids has been gratifying,” Kathryn said, “and showing them I am the same as everyone else will be good for them as they get older and meet other people who may be different from them.”
Kathryn doesn’t pull any punches in sharing how Sister-Bear came to be. Instead, she tells the story as it happened.
No one recovers from trauma in a straight line. That said, Kathryn continues to be an inspiration to those who meet her; at the end of her story, her bravery and inspirational attitude shine through when she says:
“I know God has a bigger plan for my life. Otherwise I wouldn’t be here today. Unfortunately, my best friend didn’t survive the accident, but I know I am here to serve a greater purpose in the lives of others, and Sarah is my inspiration for continuing to persevere through challenges I am confronted with.”
“I have learned to cherish every moment as if it’s my last. I appreciate the little things more, like conversations with my parents at night and the radiant smiles from strangers out in public. The high school basketball games that I always took for granted. I look forward to family time and church. Life is beautiful.”