Washington state gymnast paralyzed in fall

Nov. 20, 2012 at 3:29 PM
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PUYALLUP, Wash., Nov. 20 (UPI) -- A 15-year-old Washington state gymnast is recovering after surgery following a fall during practice that left her paralyzed from the mid-chest down.

Jacoby Miles of Puyallup was injured during practice Friday, The Seattle Times reported. She underwent a six-hour operation on her spinal cord Saturday at Harborview Medical Center.

An effort is under way to raise $50,000 to help cover her medical and recovery costs, the newspaper said. Former Olympic weightlifter Melanie Roach, owner of the gym in Sumner where the accident happened, is donating 100 percent of the proceeds from her new book, "Life: Enjoying the Journey of Life," which coincidentally was published Friday, to the family.

"She's just an amazing girl who has spent all her life serving and volunteering," Roach told the Times. "She's just a great role model for all girls."

Jacoby, who attends Ballou Junior High in Puyallup, was doing a "double back" dismount off the uneven bars when she landed on her neck on an 8-inch-thick mat. Roach said it was a routine move Jacoby had been doing for three or four years.

"She's done it successfully 1,000 times," Roach said.

Her family said in an Internet post the surgery "went very well" and "doctors found the spinal cord had been completely pinched off but not severed." They added doctors were "very hopeful" she would regain feeling in her arms, but regaining use of her legs "would be in the 'miracle category.'"

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