From Meg McGuire, Founder:
Two weeks before I moved to Tuscaloosa to begin my journey at the University of Alabama, a helicopter landed in my backyard. Just four days before, my twelve-year-old brother Clay and his baseball team had celebrated a state championship victory and were on their way to the Dixie Youth World Series. An ATV accident changed everything. Clay was airlifted to Huntsville Hospital with the nightmarish possibility that he could lose his right arm. His injuries consisted of an open compound fracture, three different breaks on his radius and ulna, and a dislocated elbow. The day his team left for the World Series, Clay had his fourth of many surgeries. Despite the medical procedures, the most trialing aspect of his accident was having to trade in his cleats for a cast and his baseball bat for an emotional battle. Following the occurrence of a traumatic injury, extreme emphasis is placed on the physical side of recovery. However, the psychological healing is as equally important. Without mental and emotional recovery, a child’s trauma could follow him/her into adulthood, opening the door for obstacles that could prevent proper development for a promising future. I have found that there are some things that physical therapy simply cannot fix.
According to a presentation done by the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, 20 million children suffer from an unintentional injury each year in the United States. This means that there are millions of little Clays who are in desperate need of encouragement and companionship. Traumatic injuries strip these children of any sense of normalcy, denying them the chance to simply be a kid. So, when I was given the chance to share Clay’s story with University of Alabama’s Running Back Kenyan Drake after his 2014 season-ending injury, I discovered the power of inspiration. When Kenyan later contacted Clay, wishing him a speedy recovery, he found new hope. Clay’s Crew came into play.
After watching my little brother fight through his recovery process and researching deeper into the psychological effects that traumatic injuries can have on children, I knew there had to be a way to reach out. Though this program is in its infancy, the focus of Clay’s Crew is to create a university-wide network to interconnect these traumatic accident victims with college students and campus organizations that match up with the child’s dreams and interests. From athletes to engineers, Clay’s Crew will provide college students the opportunity to be partnered with a child undergoing recovery as a pen pal and support system. It will create awareness and implement action on behalf of children who are undergoing recovery for a traumatic injury in Tuscaloosa and the surrounding areas. These kids need to know that they are not alone and that someone believes in them.
These children are the future of not only this university, but also this nation. Their determination to conquer the odds inspires my heart. We may not be able to stop the helicopters from landing in backyards, but through Clay’s Crew, recovery will take flight.
Sometimes things happen for a reason. Sometimes those things turn into a positive. Life is what we make it, most of the time. Meg McGuire and her brother Clay have both made this situation into a positive. Follow them on facebook Here@Clay'sCrew and watch the journey as one heals and a mission goes forth to create an awareness and implement action on behalf of children who are undergoing recovery for a traumatic injury in Tuscaloosa and the surrounding areas.