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Day at the playground ends in life-changing spinal cord injury

On a beautiful May day in 2009, Kate Clark and her 4-year-old Gwyneth packed a lunch and went to Kate’s son William’s school. While on the playground playing tag with her children and their schoolmates, a student standing on top of the slide jumped and landed on Kate.

The boy’s elbow was shattered; Kate was paralyzed from the neck down.

“I remember my sweet daughter was standing over me, and the teacher kneeling at my side, praying,” Kate recalls. “I remember watching my arm flop lifelessly to the ground after the paramedic held it in the air. And I remember the fear coursing through my heart.”

Kate was transferred to Spectrum Butterworth Hospital, where her family was told she had sustained a devastating injury to her spinal cord. She had surgery and was in the hospital a week before being transferred to Mary Free Bed.

“I spent about 40 days as an inpatient at Mary Free Bed,” Kate says. “I was diagnosed as an incomplete quadriplegic … I had almost no movement from the neck down. My body was dead weight.”

Kate underwent physical, occupational, speech, and pool therapy. She relearned basic skills, eventually learning to walk. “The nursing staff and therapists treated me with great dignity – they cried with me, cheered for me, and challenged me,” she says.

Today Kate continues to visit Mary Free Bed for outpatient therapy. She is working on strengthening, improving her balance, and correcting her walking sequence. Kate is focusing on regaining the use of her hands in occupational therapy.

Despite her difficulties, she says, “Mine is a story of God’s unwavering faithfulness – a story of how God graciously transforms pain and humiliation into beauty and blessing.”


Stacy VanTuyl

So good to hear Kate is doing sooo good.I had the pleasure of being there the same time she was and she is one amazing person. God is sooooo good! Hope to hear more about her


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