Siblings inspired to help others following brother's spinal cord injury

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KOCHVILLE TOWNSHIP (WJRT) (12/13/19) - An accident 15 years ago forever changed a Bay City family's future. Friday evening, the parents and three siblings enjoyed a full circle moment.

Mary Free Bed

Ashton Tacey, who was 8-years-old when her brother Cameron was hurt in a car accident, graduated from Saginaw Valley State University with a master's degree in occupational therapy.

It's a career path she was introduced to back in 2004 when her brother was undergoing in-patient rehabilitation at Mary Free Bed in Grand Rapids.

"Show them the bright light at the end of the tunnel, because other people helped us to do that too. If we didn't have those people in our lives, it could have turned out much differently," said Ashton Tacey.

When Cameron was injured, his parents were told he likely wouldn't live through the night -- and if he did, he'd probably never walk again.

"The doctor said less than 10 percent chance," Cameron Tacey said.

First, he was taken to a Bay City hospital, then to what is now Ascension St. Mary's in Saginaw. Then it was on to Mary Free Bed.

Even at a young age, Ashton understood the magnitude of what her family was going through.

"It was a very scary moment, because I had no idea what was happening. You know, I just knew that Cameron was in the hospital and it was something serious," she said.

Cameron had a spinal cord injury. His siblings, Evan and Ashton, often traveled from Bay City on weekends to be by his side.

"It didn't seem like it shook them. So I don't know that I even spent that much time thinking about how I would be affecting them," Cameron said about the impact he had on the career choices of his siblings.

"When I sat in on those therapy sessions I saw all of the amazing things that he got to do, all the progress he made whether it was big or small, I said, 'I want to do that,'" Ashton said.

Only a few months after his accident Cameron walked out of Mary Free Bed. Today he's working in Hollywood as an audio engineer.

A day before Ashton's SVSU graduation, she also completed an occupational therapy internship at the same facility where Cameron went through rehab.

The three siblings, as well as parents Paul and Sharon, met with some of the same staff members who helped Cameron on Ashton's final day of her internship.

"To see my sister standing there next to them in the Mary Free Bed, had her ID card and was working right along side them, was such an incredible and special moment for me. And I'll cherish it forever," Cameron said.

Evan, who was 12 when Cameron was hurt, was also inspired. He's going into social work and hopes to work with children who have been through traumatic experiences.

Ashton and Cameron have also worked with Teens Think First hoping to inspire teen drivers to make smart choices behind the wheel.

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