The 3rd Annual Dirk Derrick Car & Truck Accident Injury Scholarship received several hundred applications from students all over America who have been personally and significantly impacted by an auto accident. Their essays were to discuss how they overcame the challenges associated with their accident.
This year's winner is a young woman who was T-boned in her car at a high rate of speed before her vehicle hit a tree and caught on fire. She suffered traumatic brain injuries as well as broken bones and damage to internal organs. However, because of her strong desire to get better physically and academically, our winner has worked hard to exceed expectations and is now excelling in college.
Below is our 2020 Dirk Derrick Car & Truck Accident Injury Scholarship winner Madison Gervasi's story:
Hi, I’m Madison Gervasi, a now college sophomore at Coastal Carolina University. In April of 2018, I was a junior in high school when my life changed forever. It was just two days before I was supposed to go to prom. I had just finished getting my nails done. I was on my way to meet up with friends for our high school soccer game until the driver’s side of my car was T-boned by a truck at over 50 mph. My vehicle was pushed into a tree and became engulfed in flames. I was unconscious and trapped inside.
By the grace of God, a good Samaritan that lived down the street had heard the crash and came rushing to the scene and was able to tear my driver’s door open. They thought I was dead while they airlifted me to the hospital. I suffered massive and extensive injuries from this accident, both physical and mental. I had double punctured & collapsed lungs along with serious internal bleeding. I was put on life support and rushed into surgery. I had a seizure on the operating table but miraculously I held on. I was in a coma, on a ventilator with 21 broken bones, a ruptured spleen, and had suffered a stroke. The doctors told my parents that I had a 5% chance of surviving the night. Even now, I still can’t believe it.
My road to recovery was long but I survived. I spent 30 days in the Pediatric I.C.U., a week of which was spent in a medically induced coma. I had a total of 4 surgeries, including a splenectomy, multiple drainage valves, 6 chest tubes, a feeding tube, and a massive Traumatic Brain Injury. I was transferred to a rehabilitation hospital where it was time to see what setbacks I had and where my future was going. My brain injury and altered mental status needed just as much attention as my physical injuries. So when I say every day was packed I mean it. I didn’t get weekends off. I was supposed to be in this rehab for 2 months. I left after 10 days because I made the progress I so desperately was pushing to make. There was just one setback, part of my therapy was getting me back to a junior high school education level.
When I took the Woodcock Johnson test, the results said that I was at a fourth grade education level. I felt that all of those painful and exhausting days were for nothing. Soon after I finally came home, still not given the ‘yes’ to walk, I realized I had to catch up on the school work that was uncompleted. After much studying, my teachers finally gave me the exams and I passed all of them with flying colors, happily ending my junior year with a 3.9 GPA.
A few days before I started my senior year, I got the approval to start walking again which left me over the moon that I was able to walk into school instead of being pushed in a wheelchair. I was also ecstatic to walk across the graduation stage to receive my diploma having straight A’s. I finished out that year strong, Madison Strong! College was and is not easy. I needed reminders from my father to help me keep track of assignments. It was tough, my first semester didn’t end how I wanted. However, I was able to learn what worked for me and use it. Now, I am on the dean’s list here at Coastal. It isn’t easy, but I make it possible.
For more information about the Dirk Derrick Car & Truck Accident Injury Scholarship for 2021, please see www.derricklawfirm.com/scholarship.