Young couple perseveres through paralyzing accident
COLUMBIA - True love means being there through the thick and the thin. Columbia natives Kory and Kathleen McDonald know that from experience.
The two met at Rock Bridge high school in Columbia and immediately had an interest in each other.
“She had a long crush on me since the day that we met,” Kory McDonald said.
They did not officially start dating until they were at the University of Missouri. One year into their relationship, an icy-cold sledding experience with family changed their lives forever.
“We got to the top of the hill, we were waiting for Kory, and we thought 'Well, we might as well just try it out,’” Kathleen McDonald said.
She and her sister picked up more speed than ever before which resulted in them skidding into a tree-filled area.
“We were just close enough to where, by the time we got to the bottom of the hill, we hit a tree,” she said.
The sisters started nervously laughing at the incident until Kathleen McDonald realized, something was wrong. She felt like her legs were sticking straight up in the air. Kathleen McDonald jokingly asked her sister to put them down for her but they were already there.
“I just remember thinking this is a really big deal right now, something bad happened,” she said.
The group called the police immediately. Family and friends showed up to the scene before an ambulance rushed her to the hospital. Tests showed she injured her spinal cord at T6, leaving her paralyzed.
Kory McDonald said, “For me, I didn’t really have time to think. I just had to make sure I was going to be there for her."
The McDonalds said the accident immediately transformed their relationship, made it deeper, richer.
“You always have to have the positive outlook,” Kory McDonald said. “She’s done a pretty good job of that.”
The McDonalds grew closer and became more vulnerable because of the accident bringing them to take the next step in their commitment: marriage.
Proposing was an easy choice for Kory McDonald as he saw how strong and fun-loving the love of his life was.
“We always have a good time together,” he said.
Surrounded by their family and friends, they married on New Year’s day, 2018. Kory McDonald swept his glowing bride off her feet the as they performed their tear-jerking first dance. Kory McDonald lifted his new wife off her feet and carried her, swaying, around the dance floor.
“We both love to dance, so that was really good,” Kathleen McDonald said.
That’s not where their story ends.
The McDonalds now use their faith and love to help others in similar situations understand that true love conquers all. They said everything happens for a reason and this was God's plan for them.
As K-Life leaders, the McDonalds mentor kids in a small group. This week is Kathleen's final week before she pursues her career in nursing.