Footprints of Faith: Be a Light

By Brooke Walker | Posted - Oct. 3, 2010 at 1:00 p.m.



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In July, more than 3,000 Latter-day Saint youth from the greater Ogden area performed a two-hour youth spectacular titled "Arise."

Ten stakes came together to pull off the impressive event. Young men and young women danced, sang and shared their testimonies, in a powerful performance that moved an entire audience.

"There is such an energy, such a feeling when you see the event all together, and you say, ‘How did they get all those kids to do that?'" observed Jerry Nelson, executive producer of "Arise."

For one young performer, the message of faith and light shared that evening held personal meaning.

Sixteen-year-old Kaylee Allen loves to play soccer; she has played competitively for years. Last spring, on the final play of a team game, Kaylee was in as defender.

"We were playing a team that was really physical, really aggressive," Kaylee recalls.

The ball was kicked straight toward her. She went in to clear the ball, but another player took out the back of her legs, causing her to land on the back of the head.

"I rolled over immediately and closed my eyes and grabbed my head," Kaylee describes. "I remember rolling over and I couldn't see anything. It was really scary."

The first thing she heard was her mother's reassuring voice, but Kaylee couldn't see her mother's face.

"To look into her eyes and see them black and empty was really frightening," says Kaylee's mother, Cheryl Allen.

At the hospital, doctors immediately performed an MRI.

"The emergency room doctor made a point to let us know in some cases, the vision doesn't return," says Brad Allen, Kaylee's father. "Fortunately, the MRI came back with very positive results. The doctors declared it was just a matter of time before the brain would heal itself and return to more normal function."

But it soon became clear Kaylee's vision was not the only problem. Faces and names were also dark. Kaylee had no memory of the people she loved most.

"A nurse began asking questions: Who is this? What is her name?" Cheryl says. "Kaylee just started to cry and said, ‘I don't know. I don't know what her name is.'"

Kaylee's parents immediately began talking to their daughter about basic bits of information.

"That was the hardest part, to know who everyone was," Kaylee says.

But certain aspects of Kaylee's memory were clear: She remembered Church hymns and music, she remembered the name and face of the prophet, and she remembered basic beliefs and principals of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It was a "mini-miracle" Kaylee believes was no coincidence.

"You hear all your life the Church was true, and I'm pretty sure that wasn't just a ‘happened to remember it' kind of a thing. It's real," Kaylee says.

Once at home, Kaylee would celebrate each time a new color would appear: first blue, then green; orange followed next. The Allens believe even colors didn't come by coincidence.

"The days my friends at school would do group fasts were the days I would pick up colors," Kaylee explains. "It was a long time before I could see red, and we found out the morning I could finally see red was the day a bunch of my friends wore church clothes to school and participated in a group fast."

Limited on what she could do, where she could go and who she even remembered -- despite her progress -- Kaylee found herself dealing with not just physical darkness, but an emotional darkness of sorts. Her spirit lacked light -- a not-normal attitude for a normally positive person.

"She still smiled a lot," Cheryl says, "but it was something in her eyes that was different."

"There were times where a lot would be going on and I would get headaches very easily," Kaylee says. "I was not in a happy mood all the time. It was definitely a scary time."

One of her first out-of-the-house adventures after the accident helped rally her Spirit. It was at a practice for "Arise." Being with friends was fun, having the music and moves come back quickly was exciting, but at the final dress rehearsal of that multi-stake spectacular it was prophet's message that really touched Kaylee's heart.

"They showed a clip of President Monson talking about how we need to choose the right all the time and how we each have the light of Christ in us," Kaylee explains. "He said we needed to share that with everyone, no matter what. I felt like it was, bam, right there for me."

For a girl sorting through her own personal darkness came a powerful lesson of light.

"It's always there, no matter what," Kaylee says forcefully. "In Young Women we call it the ‘light switch.' Is your ‘light switch' on? I believe it's always on. It's just a matter of if it's dim or not. Everyone has a light in them that should be shared."

E-mail: bwalker@ksl.com

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Brooke Walker

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