MACON, Ga. — Atrium Health Navicent honored survivors of trauma Tuesday with the inaugural Trauma Survivor of the Year award. It recognizes trauma survivors who worked hard to recover and inspire others.
During the ceremony, survivors were reunited for the first time with the first responders who helped them during their accidents.
One of the recipients, Justin Woodall, suffered a pelvic and femur fracture after a motorcycle accident in Sept. 2021.
He had multiple surgeries and underwent physical therapy to help with his injuries. He says it's been a long and bumpy road to recovery, but he liked getting to meet the care team who assisted him.
"That was pretty cool because I don't really have a recollection of that night. I don't know what happened, so it was pretty good to meet the people that were able to take care of me," he said.
The ceremony was also a surprise for one of Atrium's own, too. Kimiko Cheeley is a Trauma Survivor Network Coordinator and currently works at Atrium with trauma patients.
A tractor tire fell on her five years ago when she was pushing it at her mother's home. She was in a coma for eight days and needed extensive rehabilitation.
Cheeley says she reframed some things about her life and adjusted to not being able to do all the things she used to. She loves getting to work with trauma patients because she knows what they've been through.
"It just fills me up with joy that I'm able to show our survivors that you can do it. You may just, I've stated before, have a minor setback, but it's just a set up for a comeback," said Cheeley.
Cheeley and Woodall have advice for survivors.
"Just keep pushing. Follow the doctor's orders for sure. That's where I kind of messed up. I started walking too soon and it set me back but it gets better," said Woodall.
"Keep moving forward, set your goals. If you meet them that's wonderful. If you don't meet them at the time you expect, that's okay, just keep moving forward," said Cheeley.