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RIVERTON — A Riverton teenager, paralyzed in a freak accident a year ago, has learned to never take the simple things in life for granted.
"I'm just trying to be independent," said 14-year-old Kendra Muller.
She has embraced her new challenges with courage, and Friday, thanked some new friends who stepped up to remodel her bathroom just for her needs. Kendra says she was always an independent kid, and it's tough now that she needs to ask for help with things that were simple in the past.
It's that loss of independence that's especially tough for a teenager who loved to run, play soccer and set a fast pace for fun with her friends. Today, with the rip of some police tape stretched across the bathroom door, Kendra officially had a renovated bathroom.
She said the biggest help is the open shower.
"Before there was a big lip," she said. "So, I couldn't roll my wheelchair in and take a shower. I couldn't be independent in doing a normal thing that everybody needs to do."
Kendra can roll right up to the sink, too, without bumping her legs and wheelchair against the cabinet under the sink.
"I couldn't really reach the sink, because there was a cabinet below," she said. "But now, I can go right up to it, and turn on the water."
Kendra was paralyzed last May when she piled into a hammock with four friends and a brick support column crumbled on top of her. She broke her spine, ribs, neck, collar bone and shoulder blades. She spent the summer at Primary Children's Medical Center. The first part of her stay she couldn't talk, and was on a ventilator. But she improved quickly.
(I learned) not to take what you have for granted, because it can all change. Some people always have it worse off than you.
–- Kenra Muller
Today, she perseveres with this positive attitude: "Not to take what you have for granted, because it can all change. Some people always have it worse off than you. So, really not to complain."
Kendra still has the use of her arms, and she's thankful for that. She goes to therapy two times a week to keep getting stronger.
"It's fun to be part of trying to make a difference," said Chief Rod Norton, of the Riverton Precinct of the Unified Police Department.
The precinct officers raised more than $15,000 for the project with the help of Oquirrh Hills Middle School and local businesses. They regularly help several families during the Christmas holiday with their Holiday Heros program. When they heard about Kendra and the unique challenges she faced, physically and financially, they got involved.
"It tugged on all of our heartstrings," Norton said. "So, we took what was just a small effort, and reached out to the businesses and the middle school, and asked them to help with something more significant this year."
After they raised the money, the police officers worked with Utah's Heart 2 Home Foundation for their expertise with the bathroom renovations.
Detective Ed Malm is pretty sure the police officers got just as much satisfaction out of their new friendships as Kendra and her family.
"To see how she's been able to overcome adversity, just with life and things that she has ahead of her, it's just inspiring," Malm said.
The family expressed tremendous appreciation to everyone who stepped up to help. Kendra spent all of last summer recovering in the hospital. This year? "Party with my friends. go to some camps and stuff like that."