A Utah teenager’s story of resilience has gone viral after she attended her homecoming less than two months following a horrific car crash.
On July 30, 17-year-old Sarah Frei, a senior at Clearfield High School, was returning home from Bear Lake with her friends when a truck heading the opposite way turned the corner and hit them. The crash caused Frei, who was sitting in the back passenger seat, to suffer internal bleeding, paralyzing her from the waist down.
“I was heavily sedated [at the intensive care unit at the University of Utah Medical Center] for the first two weeks after the incident,” Frei told In The Know. “I would have moments of consciousness, but everything feels like a dream. I don’t remember anything from those first two weeks. When I was finally finished with surgeries and able to be more awake, I remember feeling grateful my family and friends were supporting me.”
Despite losing both her legs as a result of the crash, the teenager maintained a positive outlook. Her friends tried their best to lift her spirits, too — in September, Frei’s cheer team came together to organize a homecoming of their own after the pandemic forced their school to cancel the official event.
Several of Frei’s friends reached out to her mother, who worked with the hospital staff to ensure that Frei wouldn’t undergo any procedures on a Saturday. One of the senior’s friends, Andrew, then arrived with a poster and some treats to ask Frei out to homecoming.
“When I realized I was being asked to homecoming, and I figured out it was from Andrew, I was so excited!” Frei recalled. “I was a little confused, because I didn’t know if he knew I would still be in the hospital during homecoming, but my mom explained they wanted me to have them join all their activities virtually and I could participate through FaceTime.”
When the day of the homecoming arrived, Andrew and two other friends came to the hospital with some dinner in hand. He and Frei also took several pictures together, one of which was posted on Instagram and has since gotten over 4,000 likes.
“Sarah, we think you are such an extraordinary example to all of us,” one person wrote in response to the photo. “You’re an amazing person and continue to do what you are. Keep your family and friends close!”
“Your beautiful smile could light up a room,” another added.“Absolutely admire you for that!”
Though she could only attend her homecoming virtually, Frei told In The Know that she thoroughly enjoyed it.
“I loved being with my friends and watching their fun activities,” she said. “I was so glad Andrew could come down and bring me the same dinner they were having. It was so fun to see him and to be able to take pictures together. Someone donated our flowers, so that was really fun to make it more ‘official.’ I absolutely loved hearing the music and participating from my hospital room.”
And things only appear to be looking up for Frei, who said she’s been happy with her recovery process. Nearly 20 surgeries later, the teenager has taken on every challenge with an uncanny degree of optimism. She said she is looking forward to letting her body heal and being home.
“I can’t even believe how much the community has come together!” she said. “I’ve always had a very supportive family and group of friends, and I’m so glad I’ve known they’ve been here for me through this whole time.”
If you liked this story, you might want to read about the 20-year-old who is using TikTok to break down her struggles with cerebral palsy.
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