Ronald McDonald House
COLUMBIA - Any parent would trade places with a sick child in an instant. No second thoughts. No hesitation. Mary Jo and Dustin Carr had those same thoughts when a car accident, just feet from their driveway, put their daughter in a coma. Of course, the Carrs couldn't trade places with their daughter, Taylor, but thanks to the Ronald McDonald House, they could at least stay only a couple of minutes away.
In October 2013, the organization moved into its brand new home located closer to MU's Womens and Childrens Hospital in Columbia. That same month, the Carr family checked in at the Ronald McDonald House.
"This place has been amazing for us, it has allowed us to be here with our child," Mary Jo said.
The Carr family lives in Mexico, more than 40 miles away -- too far when your child is in the hospital.
"On Oct 28th my wife and the two kids had an accident," Dustin said.
"We live on a gravel road on a county road. I was driving and there was a truck in front of me driving, his dust, it hadn't rained for days, so when his dust came up and when I drove into, we hit head on with another car," Mary Jo said.
Mary Jo's first thought, her kids. Her youngest was fine, but 8-year-old Taylor was unconscious and not breathing.
"I could tell in her voice that it was serious," Dustin said about when his wife called him after the accident.
"It's hard. I don't think you can really ever describe. It's the worst thing a parent should ever go through, have to go through," Mary Jo said.
A team life-flighted Taylor to University Hospital in Columbia.
"It took me about 24 hours to really grasp her injuries," Mary Jo said.
Taylor had a broken neck and hemorrhages on the brain. The Carrs said doctors didn't give them much hope.
"They kind of had prepped us for her to be quadriplegic, vent dependent for the rest of her life. They were pretty much set that that's what was going to be the outcome for her," Dustin said.
The family found solace in others, in the Ronald McDonald House. A free stay just minutes away.
"We were there 100 percent of the time and I think that that is one of the main reasons that she has healed so quickly, is that we were there," Mary Jo said.
Now, Taylor has beaten every odd and surprisingly didn't have to have any surgeries.
"One day, she just opened her eyes. She smiled," Mary Jo said. "It prepared us for baby steps. Two steps forward, one step back and that' just how the journey would go, but I don't think we've ever had a day back from the day she's opened her eyes."
Taylor spent a month in what's called a halo to keep her back and neck straight. Currently, she's in a neck collar.
"They told us that would have to fuse the neck. They didn't have to do that after they took the halo off, everything was growing back, which wasn't normal according to doctors," Dustin said.
The Carrs spent 19 nights at the Ronald McDonald House, hard times softened by the gentle touch of a caring organization.
"We've never been a family that didn't cherish time, we're very close with each other, but time is so important. Time was important in that hospital. Time is important outside that hospital as well. Cherish every single moment with your kids and your families because it can be taken away from you in seconds," Mary Jo said.
The dust from the accident has settled and Taylor is a walking miracle.
"She's amazing, an inspiration to a lot of people including us," Mary Jo said.
The Carrs started a campaign in their hometown called, "Tabs for Taylor" aimed at collecting soda can tabs for the Ronald McDonald House. For more information on Tabs for Taylor, click here. If you are interested in donating to the house, click here.