WEST VALLEY CITY (News4Utah) - From tragedy to triumph, Lina Nguyen is making strides towards success after a car crash resulted in her becoming a quadriplegic. One thing is holding her back from her full potential - transportation.
Nguyen's life changed dramatically on August 18, 2009. She was a passenger in a car accident in Emigration Canyon. Her neck was broken in three different places and she was paralyzed from the chest down. Nguyen was only 16 years old at the time.
"I had to learn everything again...learn how to breathe, how to talk, how to eat again. After the accident, I needed all this help that I didn't want to ask for. I was so broken down, I just wanted to sleep my life away. I told my brother one night, I just wanted to die," said Nguyen.
Despite the emotional challenges and months of physical therapy, Nguyen graduated from high school less than two years later.
"It was one of my biggest accomplishments. Everyone at graduation stood up and clapped for me because they knew what I had to go through in order to make it to that point," said Nguyen.
Nguyen eventually gained some control of her hands again. Over the past few years, Lina's inspired others through sharing her story, speaking to as many as 400 people at a time.
"I looked at my hospital room where I was in the beginning and where I am now. It brings me to tears because I feel so much joy that I have come so far," said Nguyen.
She said she wants to change the perceptions about people with disabilities.
"The stigma is that we're lonely, we're ugly, we shouldn't be part of the world," said Nguyen. "We can be fashionable, we can be lovable, we shouldn't be looked down on, and we should rise above all the tragic things we've been through."
She's now pursuing a career in social work and working on a degree at Salt Lake Community College. However, the van her family uses to drive her around has been out of commission for the last 10 months. She's had to rely on public transportation services, which are not always available during the times she needs it.
"One thing that's hard for me is asking for help," said Nguyen about asking her family and friends for help getting around.
Nguyen said she's very independent and her dream is to purchase a van that she can drive on her own one day.
"I want to use this van so I can get around my community to make a change and show people in my position that there's more to life after a tragic accident," said Nguyen.
Her friends and family are holding a fundraiser to help her achieve this dream. She needs $35,000 to make it happen.
"I'm still struggling every day, but I still have that mindset that I need to push forward," said Nguyen,. "My disability is just a part of my story. My story's not done yet."
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