Olivia's story is a testament to the support of many, but also a display of courage, motivation, and a desire to not accept typical boundaries. Here is more on her story, from The Miracle Child herself from her March 2017 speech at a congressional panel discussion on Capitol Hill.
Our family's introduction to brain injury began on the evening of November 27, 2001. Kelly was driving our two daughters, Hannah and Olivia, to Hannah's first Nutcracker stage rehearsal. The last thing Kelly remembers is pulling out of the driveway as the girls sang along to a "Good Night, Blue" music CD. While travelling along a six lane road, Kelly was stopping at a yellow light and never saw the SUV coming from behind. The other driver had already hit two other cars before colliding with our minivan and pushing it through the intersection and across three lanes of traffic before stopping at a guardrail.
Kelly and Olivia were unconscious and Kelly awoke to Hannah screaming, "Mommy, Mommy, wake up!" Kelly recalls the paramedics asking if there was anyone else in the third row of the minivan, which thankfully there was not. Olivia remained unconscious and all three were transported to the Emergency Room in separate ambulances. The ER personnel assessed Olivia and determined that she had to be transferred immediately to the closest pediatric trauma unit, which was 28 miles away. Kelly was able to provide the name and phone number of a close family member to accompany Olivia in the ambulance, though she does not remember the conversation. Hannah was released and a friend came to pick her up while Kelly remained to have X-rays and a CT scan.
Mike had been travelling for a temporary consulting job and arrived home shortly afterwards to hear the message left on the family's answering machine informing him that his family had been in an accident. Kelly, Mike, and Olivia were reunited at Fairfax Hospital where they learned Olivia had suffered a severe traumatic brain injury. She was on a ventilator and was lying in the hospital bed very still and angel-like. Over the next few days, we learned that she had a fractured skull, bleeding in her brain, possible pneumonia from aspiration in her lungs, and had a intracranial pressure monitor inserted into the side of her skull to reduce the pressure in her brain.
She spent two weeks in the hospital where she regained consciousness but had a long recovery ahead of her. Olivia was transferred to Kennedy Krieger Institute for inpatient rehabilitation. The doctors told us that the stay would most likely last six to nine months, however, Olivia was discharged on December 28, 2001 exactly two weeks after she arrived.
Olivia has endured numerous therapies over the past seventeen years including physical, occupational, speech, recreational, musical, cranio-sacral as well as therapeutic riding. She has been in the special education system since she was three and has received hours of specialized teaching and tutoring.
Olivia was called “The Miracle Child” by a pediatric neurologist since he had seen patients who had far less severe injuries but were much more limited in their abilities. In 2018, Olivia and family members were able to personally thank some of of those who saved her life. You can read more at The Loudoun Times-Mirror or WTOP.