RICHMOND HILL, Ga. (WTOC) - A Richmond Hill teacher is recovering in the ICU at Memorial Health after an accident on an inflatable waterslide.
Valerie Feske suffered a spinal cord injury. Her family says she is now paralyzed from the chest down, but after surgery she has some arm movement.
Valerie's husband Brent Feske, who spends as much time as he can at Memorial Health with Valerie, said although things could've been much worse his positivity remains strong.
"I am on some rush of positivity and I don't know where it's coming from, I'll be honest."
What was meant to be a memorable Memorial Day weekend.
"It's devastating, you know, to think that a fun Memorial Day weekend waterslide could be a life-changing event like this."
"It just happened in a split second. She was super happy, laughing, having a great time and everything changed,” friend Jennifer Price said.
It turned into a critical emergency for Valerie Feske and her family.
"We had a small neighborhood event with an inflatable water slide. The kids were playing and Val being Valerie, being the life of the party, decided that she was going to play with the kids and all of the adults were being boring. She was up there playing and what happen was one of the kids ended up colliding with her just in the absolute wrong way,” her husband said.
Feske teaches at Richmond Hill Middle School and previously in Chatham County. Her husband Brent said following the accident, the past few days have been tough.
"The first day was a complete fake. I stayed strong and I told her everything was going to be okay, but inside I didn't believe it at all, and I was falling apart, and I told her that yesterday,” Brent said.
Through it all, he says the progress she's made has been unexpected.
"She's moving her arms a little bit and we weren't even sure if she could do that and that's 24 hours after surgery. She's already showing improvement and that to me is such a great sign and I'm just so excited,” he said.
Within hours of making a GoFundMe and even a blog for people to keep up with her progress, it has since turned into something much bigger.
"This is a demonstration of just how many people's lives she's touched and affected."
Changing not only her life forever but the people who love and support her.
"It's changed everything for us. It just helps you to understand that you need to love on your people, which is exactly what we're doing right now,” friend Maria Knight said.
And if there's one message her friend's want people to know.
"It truly takes a village, and she has the best one."
Feske’s family says they are hoping to get into a rehab facility in Atlanta. They encourage anyone to follow her progress on Val’s Village for updates.