HERRIN (AP) — A Herrin woman found a unique way to honor the people who helped her on her journey back from a near-fatal car accident and to make sure that help is there for those who need it in the future.
A little more than four years ago, Carla Shasteen was in a coma after a car crash left her on a ventilator and suffering from severe head trauma, broken bones and the effects of three strokes. Nearly two weeks after the crash, doctors gave her little chance of survival but her family asked for 30 more days.
"I woke up on day 27," Shasteen said. "I couldn't walk, talk or even think for myself."
She was able to relearn those skills at the Acute Rehabilitation Center at Herrin Hospital.
"These people were amazing. I couldn't walk but they taught me to put one foot in front of another: heel, toe, right foot, left foot," she said. "If not for them and what they do on a daily basis, I don't know where I'd be. I can't thank them enough."
But she wanted to try.
She established the Carla Shasteen Scholarship Fund for Herrin high school seniors who plan to pursue careers in physical, occupational or speech therapies or rehabilitation nursing.
To raise money for the fund, Shasteen and her mother, Dolores "Dee" Arnsmeyer, raffled off quilts they hand made together.
"There were times when I didn't think she would come home again. I never imagined she would be quilting again," Arnsmeyer said. "That girl amazed me. She's made a great comeback."
Dr. Terence Glennon, a physiatrist at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago at Herrin Hospital, drew the winner of this year's quilt during a special ceremony at Herrin Hospital last week.
Shasteen, he said after plucking the name of winner Helen Lind of Johnston City from a basket, is an example of "Why people in rehab medicine do what we do. This is what does my heart good. From the beginning point to the person you see before you now, I can see why people use the word 'miracle.'"
The fund provided two $1,000 scholarships last year and will provide another two this year.
"I will need therapy for the rest of my life and with these scholarships, I may be helping train my next therapists," she said.