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Paralyzed Cheerleader Forgives Father, Turns Tragedy into Triumph 4/28/13

Paralyzed Cheerleader Forgives Father, Turns Tragedy into Triumph 4/28/13


>>>NOW TO A REALLY TOUCHING STORY OF HOPE AND FORGIVENESS. EIGHT YEARS AGO, A 21-YEAR-OLD CHEERLEADER SUFFERED A TRAGIC ACCIDENT AND HER LIFE CHANGED FOREVER. NBC’S JENNA WOLFE HAS HER STORY.>>AN INCREDIBLE, STORY, SAVANNAH, AN INSPIRING STORY ABOUT THE BOND BETWEEN A FATHER AND DAUGHTER. HOW ONE YOUNG WOMAN HAS LEARNED TO TURN TRAGEDY INTO TRIUMPH. AS FAR BACK AS SHE CAN CAN REMEMBER, CINDY DONALD WAS ALWAYS ON THE GO. BIKING, CLIMBING, CHEERING FOR HER SCHOOL. SHE RARELY SLOWED DOWN. UNTIL ONE PICTURE-PERFECT AFTERNOON WHEN EVERYTHING CHANGED.>>I WAS GOING OUT MY DRIVEWAY, AND I WAS TALKING ON THE PHONE TO MY BEST FRIEND. AND I HEARD HIM COME IN THE DRIVEWAY. I NEVER EVEN GOT UP. I JUST LOOKED BACK LIKE THAT. AND SO I FIGURED THAT I SAW HIM, HE SAW ME OR WHATEVER. AND SO THEN I GOT HIT. AND, YOU KNOW, HE JUMPED OUT OF THE CAR. I JUST REMEMBER TELLING HIM, I’M OKAY, I JUST CAN’T FEEL MY ARM. >>Reporter: SHE WAS RUN OVER IN HER OWN DRIVEWAY. HER FATHER WAS BEHIND THE WHEEL.>>IT WAS MY FAULT. I WASN’T LOOKING WHERE I WAS GOING, I WAS THINKING OF SOMETHING ELSE. IN ONE SPLIT SECOND, HER LIFE CHANGED, MY LIFE, THE WHOLE FAMILY’S LIFE CHANGED.>>CINDY WAS LEFT PARALYZED FROM THE NECK DAWN.>>SHE WAS LYING THERE, CRITICALLY INJURED, COULD DIE IN MY ARMS IN THE DRIVEWAY.>>WAS IT HARD FOR YOU TO NOT BLAME ANYONE? BECAUSE YOU KNOW YOU ARE NEVER GOING TO BLAME YOUR FATHER.>>NOT REALLY. YOU KNOW, I JUST FEEL LIKE THINGS HAPPEN. I NEVER BLAME GOD AND CONTINUAL NEVER BLAME MY DAD. I THINK I HAVE A GREAT LIFE, REALLY. I’M LUCKY I’VE GOT A GREAT BOYFRIEND, I THINK. I’VE GOT A GREAT FAMILY. I’M PRETTY MUCH TAKEN CARE OF AND I’M PRETTY HAPPY.>>BUT IT TOOK A WHILE FOR CINDY TO GET TO THAT POINT. AND SHE DIDN’T GET THERE ON HER OWN. HER STORY SENT SHOCK WAVES AROUND HER ATLANTA COMMUNITY. IT ESPECIALLY RESONATED WITH A GROUP OF FATHER WHO IS MEET AT THE BAGEL SHOP EVERY MORNING FOR COFFEE AND CONVERSATION. THEY CALL THEMSELVES “THE BAGEL BOYS.” AN ATLANTA BRAVES MANAGER, FREDI GONZALEZ, IS ONE OF THEM. >>HER SPIRITS ARE OFF THE CHARTS.>>FREDDIE AND THE BOYS WANTED TO HELP. SO THEY DECIDED TO ORGANIZE FUND-RAISERS FOR CINDY’S REHAB.>>WHAT DO YOU THINK OF WHO THEY ARE AND WHAT THEY DO?>>I THINK THEY’RE JUST AN AMAZING GROUP OF PEOPLE. BECAUSE, YOU KNOW, WHEN I FIRST GOT HURT, I DIDN’T THINK THE WORLD WAS FULL OF SUCH GOOD PEOPLE AND PEOPLE THAT WERE REALLY GENUINE AND JUST WANTED TO HELP OUT OF THE GOODNESS OF THEIR HEART.>>INSPIRED BY THEIR GENEROSITY, CINDY DECIDED TO PAY IT FORWARD, AND STARTED A FOUNDATION OF HER OWN TO TRY TO HELP THOSE WITH TRAUMATIC BRAIN OR SPINAL CORD INJURIES, SOMETHING THAT DIDN’T SURPRISE HER FATHER.>>DID IT ALL ON HER OWN. AND SHE HAS JUST ALWAYS BEEN THAT WAY. THAT DAY THAT ACCIDENT HAPPENED IN THE DRIVEWAY, I’M THERE HOLDING HER, AFRAID SHE WAS GOING TO DIE — SHE WASN’T THINKING ABOUT HERSELF. SHE LOOKED AT ME AND SAID — “IF I DIE, DON’T BLAME YOURSELF.”>>>AND EIGHT YEARS LATER, CINDY IS STILL PUTTING OTHERS AHEAD OF HERSELF. HELPING HER DAD MOVE BEYOND A PARENT’S WORST NIGHTMARE.>>WHENEVER I FEEL SAD OR GUILTY OR UPSET ABOUT IT, SHE HAS ALWAYS REASSURED ME, HEY, IT HAPPENED, IT WAS AN ACCIDENT.>>WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED ABOUT LIFE? THROUGHOUT THIS EXPERIENCE?>>I THINK THAT IT’S BROUGHT US CLOSER TOGETHER, AND I THINK THAT I FOUND A LOT OF PURPOSE IN MY LIFE THROUGH THIS. AND I FEEL LIKE I CAN KIND OF REACH A LOT MORE PEOPLE AND TOUCH A LOT MORE PEOPLE THROUGH MY SITUATION. HOPEFULLY WE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE AND MAKE SOMETHING POSITIVE OUT OF IT.>>>AND SHE REALLY IS MAKING SOMETHING QUITE POSITIVE OUT OF HER LIFE THROUGH HER FOUNDATION, CINDY DONALD HAS REACHED RECIPIENTS ACROSS THE COUNTRY, PROVIDING THEM WITH GRANTS FOR SPECIALIZED THERAPY PROGRAMS AND EQUIPMENT TO HELP THEM WITH THEIR RECOVERY. BUT SAVANNAH, IT’S HER SPIRIT. IT’S THIS — THIS LIFE THAT JUST — THAT JUST, YOU KNOW, ENCAPSULATES HER WHEN SHE WALKS AROUND AND MEETS PEOPLE. THE MOST UNBELIEVABLE THING

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