19 April 2010

Meet Christine Kent

When I went to work on Friday morning, I thought my day would be the usual type of day.  Do some work, read the news, get some writing done.  I visited CNN.com like I normally do and I came across a headline that read "Paralyzed Shooting Victim Competes in Marathons".  I clicked on the headline and read the story.  By the time I finished, I had tears in my eyes.  Tears of sadness, but also of inspiration.  I knew right then and there I wanted to contact her to offer some sort of support.

Friday turned out not to be a normal day for me.  Reading that article ignited a spark inside me and I felt compelled to reach out to Christine Kent after reading her story and realizing she lives in the greater Ft. Lauderdale area, just a few miles away from me.

I visited a couple websites dedicated to Christine and read her story several times.  On one of the websites, I found her email address and sent her an email telling her a little about me, who I am, and that I would like to help.  I told her I couldn't necessarily help her monetarily (she has a fund through NTAF to raise money for her medical expenses and a wheelchair van) but I would like to meet her and help her out somehow.

To my surprise and delight, she responded that very same day and said she would love to meet me and that she had some gardening she needed assistance with.  I admitted I didn't have much of a green thumb, but I would be more than happy to come over and help her anyway.  She called me on Friday evening and we made plans to meet on Saturday.

I arrived to her house at noon on Saturday and when she opened the door, we both had wide smiles on our faces, grateful to meet each other.  No sooner did I step inside her house did she stretch her arms out wide to envelop me in a hug.  We had just met that day, but it was almost like I had known her for years.  She and her house are very warm and welcoming, as is her extremely adorable cat.

Christine was grateful for my contacting her, saying "one can never have too many friends", but even more grateful that I was willing to help her tend to her garden, an activity she used to love, and in fact still does, but faces many challenges navigating her backyard in a wheelchair.

If you haven't clicked on the two links above, I will tell you why Christine needs help gardening. It sounds like a simple task to most people, but for Christine, it is far from that, even though that doesn't stop her from having a passion for a beautiful yard.

Christine is in a wheelchair.  She hasn't always relied on a wheelchair; in fact, she used to love skiing and she even used to be a model.  She was as mobile as any person could get.  But her life changed on August 4th, 2007.  On that night, she was the victim of a horrible crime that has left her forever changed.  She was attacked by a stalker at her home in Ft. Lauderdale by a man she had considered to be a mere acquaintance.

A man by the name of Allan Sinclair IV plotted an attack against her and showed up at her house one random night.  He was not a friend of hers, nor was he a complete stranger, so when he knocked on her door that night, she was apprehensive, but opened the door to this acquaintance of hers.

Before she knew it, he put a gun to the back of her head.  She spoke to him about God and told him he needed to let her go.  When she fled for her life, he opened fire and one of the bullets completely obliterated the T-12 section of her spine and paralyzed her.  She landed in the gravel beside her driveway, conscious.  Sinclair then got in his SUV and ran over her in her own driveway, turning the wheel on top of her abdomen, crushing her.

He fled the scene and she desperately screamed for help, but no one came.  Her neighbors phoned the police when they heard the shots being fired but were too afraid to come to her aid.  She lie there, paralyzed in agonizing pain when suddenly Sinclair came back within minutes, grabbing her by the ankles and dragging her across the driveway behind the hedges.

She was left there to die.  She prayed for her life and prayed to be saved while waiting to be rescued.  Christine Kent survived by a miracle, by the grace of God, and she is ever so grateful.

Fortunately, this dangerous man was apprehended the very next day.  On October 2, 2009, Allan Sinclair IV pleaded guilty to attempted rape and first degree attempted murder and was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole.  She has some closure and peace of mind knowing he will never get out of prison to hurt her or anyone else again.

On August 4, 2007, Christine was sentenced a life of paralyzation because of this man.  Thank God that same day, she was also granted life.  The doctors confirmed that the injuries to her spine were so severe, she will never walk again.  She spent over six months in the hospital and in rehabilitation facilities, but is grateful to be back in her own home.  Every day is challenging for her, but through sheer will, determination, and an amazing support system, she keeps pushing forward.

Christine tries to remain positive despite chronic pain and her disability, but she sincerely believes that every day is a gift and life is truly a blessing.  She has attended support groups who have helped her adjust to her new life, to solve problems, and to set goals and since becoming involved, she has been helpful and encouraging to others who struggle with the same issues.  Christine has become more involved with various activities and sports geared for the disabled.  Handcycling is now one of her favorite sports and she has just completed her third full 26-mile marathon!  She feels such a sense of accomplishment and her family and friends are very proud of her.

Christine Kent is an amazing woman who has overcome a violent, brutal attack that should have killed her.  But it didn't. And it certainly didn't kill her spirit either.  She wants to make the most of her life and by sharing her story, experience, and perspective, she believes she can help others as well.  She speaks at various groups and hopes to have a positive impact by promoting awareness of disability and giving motivational speeches.  Her goal is not to get sympathy from anyone, but rather to help people understand the importance of not taking life for granted.

Christine says living with paralysis is extremely difficult and every day she has her challenges, but she manages and wants to be as independent as possible once again. 
She has modified her home to be handicap accessible by installing ramps in the front and back of the house, as well as interior modifications which have made it a bit easier for her to maintain independence.  She also has an aide who assists her in her home five times a week, helping out with various tasks and chores.  But she is still a long way from reaching her goal of independence.  Having her own means of transportation, a wheelchair van, would help her fulfill this goal.  She would be able to stay active and commute to as many places as needed. 

Christine is amazing.  Instantly, her presence warms your heart because she is one of the rarest people a person could ever meet--truly kind, caring, and sincere.  Instead of feeling sorry for herself, she realizes things could always be worse and she is still alive, and while she is alive, she will settle for nothing less than making the most of her life. But she needs our help.  Due to her condition, she is unable to work and receives government aid.  But it's not enough. 

To assist with her injury related expenses, a fundraising campaign has been established with the Catastrophic Injury Program of the National Transplant Assistance Fund (NTAF). NTAF is a nonprofit organization that has been serving the transplant and catastrophic injury community for 25 years. All contributions are tax-deductible and are administered for injury-related expenses only.
If you wish to make a donation:
Make check payable to:                   
NTAF Southeast Spinal Cord Injury Fund          
Write on check memo line:              
In honor of Christine Kent
Mail to:
150 N. Radnor Chester Road Suite F-120
Radnor, PA 19087

Otherwise you can visit her personal NTAF website here to contribute a donation online.  Christine also tells her own story on her own personal website called Christine's Survival. Luckily, Christine has a huge support system--family, friends, doctors, therapists, support groups.  Without them, Christine may have taken a different approach to her new life.  She is lucky to have them and they are all lucky to know her and care about her.

Christine's story is a lesson to all of us not to take anything in life for granted, particularly life itself.  A random act of kindness can go a long way and change someone's life. I wish everyone I knew could meet Christine.  But there are other people like Christine out there who need help as well.  I urge you to find someone in your community and reach out to them with a helping hand.  You don't have to donate money to make a difference.  There is someone in your community who struggles with day-to-day activities, just like Christine, and you can help.

Meeting Christine truly warmed my heart, and although I'm not a gardener by any means, I can only hope that I helped in some way.  I hope I didn't cut that pineapple plant down too much, and I hope those bulbs we separated actually grow!  I look forward to seeing her (and her cute cat) again and I hope her story reaches the masses, one person at a time.  Everyone could use a little help and inspiration once in a while.

So Christine, I thank you for opening your door to me, a complete stranger, and letting me into your life.  I will be forever grateful for your trust, your kind words, and inspiration.  You are an amazing woman.  I hope you reach your goal and get that set of wheels you want so badly.  I have faith that one of these days, you'll be cruising around town in no time. 


Charles said...

Thank you for writing this! Chris and I are old friends and I was devastated when I heard about this. Her attacker got off too light, justice still hasn't been served.

Her strength and determination have seen her through this ordeal, now we gotta try and get her a van!

KC Kelly said...

No problem...I am just honored and humbled that I was allowed to meet someone like Christine. I've only known her a few days but it feels like a lifetime! And yes, she does need to get that darn van!

cchettry said...

I work with Dell Tech support and i got a call from a Gentleman who was helping Christine setup her laptop.,after knowing about her i searched on her in Google and learned about the incident. I was really moved reading about her.I decided to send her a free Bluetooth headsets as goodwill and got it approved from my Manager as gentlemen told me that she talk to people over Skype a lot.

I am glad that i could be of a little help to this kind-hearted lady. God bless her and give her strength to do good for other.

Made by Lena