Sariah was an active and talented five-year-old who couldn’t wait to start kindergarten. She danced and even had a budding modeling career. While she stole the hearts of everyone she met, she was exceptionally close with her mother, Shamika.
On Valentine’s Day, 2018, Sariah and her mom were driving to school when their lives were changed forever. They were struck by another vehicle, and mom’s leg was pinned. She looked over to Sariah who was unresponsive. They were rushed to the emergency room, where mom’s leg was casted. Sariah remained in a coma for weeks with a spine broken in two places and paralysis from her shoulders down, including her lungs.
After time, Sariah awoke from her coma. She was transferred to Ranken Jordan in the beginning of April and at first, Sariah could barely speak.
“Sariah suffered such severe injuries yet remained 100 percent cognitively intact,” says Sara Steiner, Ranken Jordan social worker. “She has a full range of emotions, and throughout her time at Ranken Jordan, she was quickly able to find her voice.”
Eventually, Sariah’s voice would return. Soon, she was singing, even performing mini “concerts” for the staff and patients at Ranken Jordan. “Sariah and her mom sing together often,” says Sara. “One day, I came into Sariah’s room and joined in on the fun, dancing and singing music from the show Mamma Mia. The other staff made fun of me, but Sariah defended me and cheered me on with her big, beautiful smile. She said I had great moves.”
Throughout her five months at Ranken Jordan, mom and her grandparents were always at her side.
“The way Sariah cares for others speaks volumes about the way she was raised,” Sara continues. “She notices if you wear a new outfit or wear your hair differently, or if you look sad or concerned. To care that much at age five is one thing. To care after such a catastrophic accident speaks volumes about the values she was raised with since birth. That is what will carry her through and help her survive the challenges that lie ahead.”
Sariah is at home now and continues to be creative through singing and even painting. She is waiting for her motorized wheelchair so she can drive herself to give her even more freedom. “She tested the chair when she was here,” says Sara. “We thought she might be scared by it because you control it with your head. Sariah was always a little scared of anything we had to do near her head or neck, like trach care suctioning. So when she tried this chair, we were prepared to calm her down. But she got into the chair and took off! Therapy staff had to run after her to keep her ventilator alongside her! It was so moving to see her go home. She has so much more ahead of her.”