Positive attitude makes a difference

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 7, 2011

By Sarah Campbell
CHINA GROVE — When surgery left Savanah Hinson paralyzed four years ago she thought her life was over.
“I didn’t do anything for two weeks, I just laid there crying,” she said about hearing the news. “I was angry at God, I didn’t understand.”
But an epiphany pulled her out of her depression and into rehabilitation.
“I thought, ‘I can’t live like this,’ ” she said. “Why wouldn’t I try to help myself?
“I decided to be happy and grateful for what I have.”
By the time Hinson began rehab she had shrunk to a weak 88 pounds. And although she is paralyzed from the abdomen down, she couldn’t even lift her head off the bed at first.
When she returned to Carson High School to finish out her freshman year it took her nearly two hours to get ready every morning.
Now, she gets around in her pink wheelchair with ease.
She also drives a Volkswagen Beetle, controlling the gas and brakes with her hands.
“People think that people in wheelchairs can’t do things, but I swim, I horseback ride, I go fishing,” she said. “I just do it a different way.”
At Carson, Hinson has been the Relay for Life leader, a member of the prom committee and photo editor for the yearbook. She also works as an office assistant at the school.
“Even on days when she does not feel her very best physically you cannot tell it,” Stacey Barnhardt, front office secretary, said. “Her spirit is so bright.”
Hinson said the only thing she misses out on are athletics, including cheerleading and volleyball.
“Whenever we have pep rallies and I see my friends cheering, I kind of get upset and jealous because I think, ‘I could be down there,’ ” she said. “But I’m trying to find alternatives like hand cycling.”
But Hinson’s optimism seems unwavering.
“You don’t know what God has planned for you, but things happen for a reason and he’s got a plan so I’ve got to live with what I’ve got and be happy that I’m alive,” she said.
Barnhardt said Hinson’s positive attitude is contagious.
“If I ever wake up and think that I might be too tired to make it one morning I think about Savanah,” she said. “She is an inspiration.”
Hinson said being paralyzed has opened her eyes to how compassionate people can be.
“It’s really helped me a lot to see how people really care, people that don’t even know me,” she said.
Students from Carson High’s carpentry class have built Hinson a ramp so that she can make the trip across the stage Saturday to receive her diploma.
In the fall, she’ll be heading to Campbell University to pursue a degree in either social work or child psychology.
“I want to reach out to kids and let them know that being different is OK,” she said.
Contact reporter Sarah Campbell at 704-797-7683.