It’s been two years since Molly Burton was hit and severely injured during a walk home from Courtenay along Comox (Dyke) Road.
“We’re trying to be positive while life is stalled,” explains Leslie Wells, Molly’s mother, over coffee a few days following the anniversary of her daughter’s accident.
On Sept. 11, 2013, Burton suffered injuries to her lower right leg and right arm when a then-17-year-old driver struck her after the car he was driving hit a concrete barrier, careened across the road and sent her screaming for help for four hours as she was stuck in blackberry bushes off the side of the road.
Burton has had nine surgeries for a shattered right tibia, ankle, humerus and tricep.
“I’m always in pain,” she notes. “There are days when it’s low enough that I can ignore it … I can walk for a little while. Just recently I got out to do a walk without my wheelchair. On a good day I go for 25 minutes – I do try and walk everyday.”
She has just received word late last week she will receive one more surgery on her leg to attempt to alleviate some of the constant pain.
Wells adds it will also help to lower the possibility of arthritis because there are parts of Molly’s leg which are not sitting properly.
“There is so much metal in her leg that winters are hard because the metal freezes and it gets really cold, but she walks without a limp. It’s amazing because we weren’t even sure at one point if she was even going to have a leg.”
Last Friday, Burton, along with her sister, cousin and family held a toast to recognize the anniversary, but rather than recall memories from the accident, they toasted to how much bone has grown, says Wells.
“It’s hard sometimes not to put all of the energy into anger. Sometimes Molly succumbs to it, but she gets out of it. She’s just so determined.”
MADD a great resource
Wells recalls shortly after Molly’s accident, she was really angry and frustrated, and wanted to do something constructive.
“I contacted Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) because I had all this energy and I wanted to do something. We were invited to the National Conference for Victims of Impaired Driving (hosted by MADD). There were a lot of people to talk with there and it was really nice to connect with other people.”
Burton adds the April conference was really helpful, and also credits MADD’s victim services program.
“Their whole organization really helped. I couldn’t have gotten through it without them.”
The primary object of MADD is to offer support to victims of impaired driving and also to influence legislation regarding impaired and distracted driving, to raise public awareness and ultimately influence individual decision making about driving responsibilities.
With the help of the organization training Burton as a victim support worker, her and Wells are in the process of creating a local MADD chapter in the Comox Valley.
“We want to have it up and running before grad (next year),” notes Wells. “We would love to have a presence around Christmas.”
Norm Prince, community leader for MADD Canada, said he first introduced himself to Molly and Leslie shortly after the accident, and met with Wells once the trial was complete.
There has never been a MADD chapter in the Comox Valley, but Prince says there will always be a need.
“It’s a job that’s never going to end. For me it’s black and white. If I’ve been drinking, I don’t drive. We’re not anti-drinking; we’re not prohibitionists or wagging the finger, but it’s pretty simple.”
Prince created a North Island chapter after 30 years of teaching high school, where he lost 18 students to impaired driving.
He said the goal for the Valley’s chapter is to educate and develop a presence in the community.
Burton notes the first step is to find enough volunteer board members to officially create the chapter, then find volunteers to help sustain, raise funds and run the organization.
For more information on the local MADD chapter or to volunteer, contact Leslie Wells at firstname.lastname@example.org or Norm Prince at email@example.com.