Fourteen years ago, Anna Aranda of Denver says her view of the world was forever changed.
That day, she fell asleep at the wheel. She woke up with a serious spinal cord injury.
It was May 11, 2003. She was 17-years-old and in the car with her best friend.
"We had worked a full shift and decided to go out, so we were a bit fatigued," Anna explained. "And on our way home, about 17 miles from home, it had ruled that I had fallen asleep at the wheel and so had my passenger as we were off the road for quite some time and hit a mile marker sign."
Anna said she woke up, noticed what has happened and tried to get back on the road but overcorrected.
Her friend died in the crash.
"Learning that my best friend had passed was very difficult, as I couldn't make the services or anything due to still being in the hospital," Anna told us. "So I think it was difficult to go through and still affects me to this day."
Anna was officially diagnosed with a T3 burst fracture of her spinal cord. It means she cannot feel anything from her upper chest down.
"I struggled to wrap my head around this is going to be life from now on. And not really wanting to do it," Anna said.
Anna had wanted to be a paramedic. She says since the accident, she has learned to adjust that dream.
"My dream and goal now is to help out and reach out to others who have unfortunately sustained a similar injury," she said. "There are so many things you can still do. It just may need to be adapted, but it's possible. And to help them see the light at the end of that dark tunnel."
Each week, Anna works to connect with people who use wheelchairs by sharing her path forward from a spinal cord injury. She works with both the Craig Hospital Peers and the "That's How I Roll Foundation."
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