A Flower Mound family is calling it a miracle. Doctors doubted it could happen. One year after a hit and run crash left a young woman partially paralyzed, she just recently took her first steps.
"She's very independent," said Nancy McDown, of her daughter, Monique. "She did things pretty fast."
McDown, now 21, was on her way. The young woman from Flower Mound is a public relations major at Brigham Young University. Driven by her strength in her faith as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, her path took her to Brazil in early 2018, as part of an 18-month mission.
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On July 15 of last year, Monique and a friend were walking alongside a road. She heard the car coming.
"We heard him rev the engine," she said.
What happened next is still clear in her mind. The car struck her from behind, in her right hip. He drove past, stopped, and then turned around and looked her in the eye, she says, before speeding off.
"I did not realize what had happened, or the severity of it, until I woke up in the hospital," she said.
In the impact, Monique suffered no broken bones. But her nerves were seriously damaged and she had internal bleeding. And – she could not move her right leg. It was paralyzed.
"It was hard to accept," she said. "But I thought it would be a month, and then I'd be back on my feet again."
Months of intense physical therapy followed. Doctors were initially optimistic, but the feeling didn't return to her leg. She described it as an "out of body experience."
"It just got to the point where they said, sorry, there's nothing more that we can do," she recalls.
Which is why what happened next was so unexpected. About a week ago, says Monique, she began to experience movement in her thigh.
"When she told me she had movement, that was so different," said her mother. "Because there's been nothing."
Her family had a feeling, and a hope, that all of the hard work might finally pay off. Monique practiced trying to walk for a few days. She was hopeful, but unsure.
"It was hard for me to believe," she said. "I kept saying, 'is this real? is it happening?'"
This past Sunday, with her mom by her side and a camera recording it, Monique took her first steps -- for a second time.
"It was great to see it, and to experience that and to see my leg moving," she said, adding, "The only words -- it was a miracle that it happened."
Walking once again isn't easy. Monique still has no feeling below her right knee. She uses a hard brace on her leg to stabilize it.
"Little baby steps," she said. "But they're steps."
McDown plans to return to BYU, where she will be a sophomore, in a few weeks. She does so knowing there is hope that she'll walk normally again, in the power of faith.
"Oh, it's been everything for me," she said.