Community rallies around recovering skydiving accident survivor - Dallas News |

Community rallies around recovering skydiving accident survivor

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The 16-year-old North Texas girl who survived a skydiving accident was released from an Oklahoma hospital on Friday, and support from her community and others around the world is only growing.

Makenzie Wethington left the OU Medical Center on a stretcher and was transported back to the Dallas area to begin rehab work.

The Joshua teen's first jump on Jan. 25 landed her in the hospital with several broken bones and major internal injuries after her family members say her primary parachute didn't open properly. Days after the accident, Wethington was able to stand, with assistance, in her hospital room.

Doctors thought Wethington could die from her injuries, and now say her recovery is remarkably fast.

The Baylor Institute for Rehabilitation, where Wethington is currently, specializes in traumatic injuries to the brain and spinal cord. 

Wethington will likely be there for several weeks.

Friends of Wethington are selling pink T-shirts that read "Makenzie strong," honoring her to raise money to help pay medical bills, and members of her school's basketball team and cheerleading squad wore the shirts in her support at a school pep rally on Friday.

The shirts were the brainchild of the teen's best friends.

"And so we decided that an easy way for Makenzie to know that everybody's thinking about her is for them to wear a T-shirt," said Wethington's friend Allison Gilmore.

Gillmore and her friends figured they would only sell them to the sophomore class, and then the T-shirt idea went global.

They've sold more than 1,000 of the shirts, raised more than $6,200 for Wethington's family and taken orders from as far away as Holland and Australia.

They even held a bake sale at the school.

At 106.1 KISS FM, DJ Billy the Kid used his afternoon show to urge listeners to buy one of the shirts, with the goal of selling 1,061 in mind.

Wethington's friends and the community continue to be amazed at how well she is recovering.

"We've texted and talked on the phone," said Wethington's friend, Laura Pritchard. "I mean, she's great. She tells us when she doesn't feel good and, you know, when she does feel good, and, you know, she's walking."

The school has rallied around Wethington's strength, been inspired by her courage and can't wait to welcome her back to school.

"I think it shows how strong we are as a school, " said Seth Barnett, who got his teammates to wear the shirts. "We come together and we support each other and we're just there for each other. I mean, we come together and we're strong."

The Oklahoma skydiving company required Wethington and her father to sign a release and sit through six hours of training before jumping.

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