‘The challenge is a blessing’
Since the accident that put her in a wheelchair, Brooklyn Boyer has seen God at work every single day — through the tiniest of hand movements in rehab, through messages of support she’s received from believers around the globe and through countless serendipities that can’t be explained away as coincidence, said her brother, Tyler.
Now, “we’re waiting on, ‘Pick up your mat and walk,’” said Tyler, referencing Jesus’ words to the paralytic in John 5.
Tyler described his 17-year-old sister as “a total, bubbly little firecracker.” She’s a pole vaulter, track runner and volleyball player for her high school in Lubbock, Texas, where the family worships with the Sunset Church of Christ. Both parents, David and Tonia, teach in the School of Education at Lubbock Christian University, where Tyler, 22, just began his fifth year.
On June 10 Brooklyn was swimming at a friend’s house and went headfirst down a pool slide. She’s not sure what happened, but suddenly she was lying at the bottom, unable to move.
“The first thing I thought of was that I could feel God on the bottom of the pool with me,” she later told her family. “I’m going to be OK.” Her boyfriend was there and had just completed lifeguard training. He would know what to do.
He did. He and Brooklyn’s friends calmly pulled her to the surface and made sure she could breathe. They kept her in the water until paramedics arrived.
At the hospital the family learned that Brooklyn’s c5 vertebrae, at the base of her skull, was shattered. She had lost all feeling from her mid-chest down and had difficulty moving her arms and shoulders. She spent about two weeks in the Intensive Care Unit. Surgeons repaired the damage as best they could, her brother said.
On June 25 a line of surgical-masked hospital workers clapped and cheered as Brooklyn left Lubbock for Craig Hospital in Denver, which specializes in rehab for people with spinal cord and brain injuries.
“The first thing I thought of was that I could feel God on the bottom of the pool with me.”
The family posts updates on a Facebook page, BrooklynsWalk, which has been viewed by people in 43 countries, Tyler said. Each post has a list of requests for “BPWs,” Brooklyn’s Prayer Warriors.
They met one of their Prayer Warriors early on, in the ICU in Lubbock. A nurse there had been asked by her mom to pray for a girl she’d heard about who was injured in a swimming accident. The nurse did, and when she got to work she discovered that the girl she’d just prayed for was her patient.
“That’s just one example, I kid you not,” Tyler said of the providence his family has experienced since the injury. At least 50 such incidents have followed, Tyler said, adding, “God has been showing himself.”
In Denver, Brooklyn recently began water therapy. It was her first time in a pool since the accident.
Her mother feared it would be traumatic. But as she listened to songs by Harry Styles (Brooklyn’s choice) she did stretches, moved her arms and even used a snorkel. She was calm, relaxed. She laughed.
“My momma heart was bursting with relief and thankfulness,” Tonia Boyer said. “Brooklyn is brave — not by her own might, but because she is confident that the Lord is good and that he is working in her.”
She’s received messages of support from churches in South Korea and Uganda, from Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (who is himself paralyzed) and from former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman.
She’s also inspired others.
Tyler said that one of his longtime friends, who had struggled with his faith, recently told him that seeing Brooklyn’s example had convinced him to reconnect with his church.
The journey “is not without tears, some days, and frustration,” her brother said.
Brooklyn doesn’t know if she’ll walk again, but “she knows that, regardless, God is going to use her, and he already has used her.”
In a recent video post, Brooklyn spoke to her teammates at school, encouraging them to obey their coaches, to “yap and clap” and to glorify God in everything they do.
“Be ready for the challenge,” she said, “because the challenge is a blessing.”