Lauren Barkwick, a former worker at an elite horse ranch known for providing horses for movies and television in Canada, learned an extremely tough lesson about the value of life and freedom of movement. Barwick had competed with and defeated other applicants to land an internship at the Mission, British Columbia studio ranch. She was only a week into her new job when she had a catastrophic accident that left her irreversibly paralyzed.
Work at the studio ranch required difficult physical labor, and Barwick eagerly sought out the position. Part of her duties at the ranch included feeding the horses with bales of hay at 7:00 a.m. On the fateful morning of her accident, Barwick climbed up a poorly stacked pile of hay bales to knock a bale down to feed the horses.
Once Barwick had climbed to the top of the hay bales, she realized it was unsafe. She jumped back down to the ground immediately. A bale of hay came with her and smashed her to the ground. It broke her back and left her paralyzed from the waist down. The accident had smashed two bones in her spine and severed her spinal cord.
Barwick must now continue living with the horrifying knowledge that her injury could have been prevented. Although she faces daily challenges of living with paralysis, she has still managed to triumph. Barwick took a gold and a silver medal in equestrian events in the 2008 paralympics in China.
Looking back in hindsight on her unfortunate accident, the Vancouver Sun reports that Barwick ‘recognizes she should have asked for help.’ She feels convinced that by putting aside her fears, recognizing the inherent dangers of her job, and asking for help not matter what the consequences, she could have perhaps been able to avoid losing the feeling and use of her legs.
It was a tough lesson to learn. Barwick concluded by telling the Sun that, ‘No amount of money is worth your health or life. We have careers to better our lives. You look at me in my wheelchair. Have I bettered my life?’ Hopefully, Barwick can be an inspiration to others to have gratitude for the ability to use legs, to remain aware and attentive to surroundings, and to take actions to avoid preventable injuries.
(pic from farm4.static.flickr.com)