JOSHUA -- What started out as a simple softball tournament has grown to a festival of sorts to help a Joshua High School student recover from a recent car wreck.
Junior Jaci Mitchell, 15, a center fielder on the school's softball team, broke her neck in a June 6 car wreck and is paralyzed from the chest down. Doctors have told the family that she has about a 2 percent chance of walking again.
"Her friends said that's twice the amount that she needs to do it," said Brad Mitchell, Jaci's father.
A group of friends is committed to keeping Jaci motivated and helping her financially.
Today's fundraiser at the high school includes a softball tournament, bounce houses, train rides, children's games and music. Local businesses, churches and community groups have come out in force to support the efforts, her friends say.
"I just want Jaci to know that she has support from so many people -- from those she has no clue who they are to her closest friends," friend and event organizer Laci Guthrie said. "I just hope that it raises her hope as well and her faith to give her strength and confidence to walk again."
Jaci's father said she was riding with a friend who seemed to have overcorrected when trying to avoid a ditch. The pickup rolled, and Jaci was ejected. She was taken by helicopter ambulance to Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth. She underwent neck surgery and faces weeks of rehabilitation in Dallas to help regain motor skills.
Soon friends launched fundraising efforts, from selling shirts and bracelets to holding carwashes.
Today's softball tournament has already raised $1,700 through entry fees, organizers said.
"It's very humbling to see the amount of support she's been getting," Brad Mitchell said. "These girls that have coordinated and done a better job than some adults can do. She's bound and determined to get better. She's a tough girl. And the support from everyone is what's going to help Jaci through this."
Eva-Marie Ayala, 817-390-7700