Sometimes mere appearances can mean so much more.

On Saturday, Bonnie Freeman plans to come home on a day pass from the Centre for Neuro Skills in Irving.

It will be her first visit since she was transported from the scene of a car accident by CareFlite with life threatening injuries early in the morning on January 7.

Jamai Freeman, Bonnie’s mother, said her daughter is excited to see her grandparents Jay and Barbara Pybus, her house and her horse. They also plan to attend a benefit being held to raise money to help with medical expenses.

The Benefit for Bonnie by the Saints and Sinners of Moss Lake is set for 7 p.m. Saturday at the Moss Lake Volunteer Fire Department/Community Center, which is off of FM 1201. Along with a silent and balloon auction and chances available to win a 2006 Ford F-150 pickup truck, attendees can dance the night away to the music Jay Anderle plays. There is a price of admission per person.

“We won’t be able to stay at the benefit for long, but we’ll make an appearance,” Jamai said.

The 17-year-old Bonnie was driving her 2004 black Honda Civic north on County Road 343 after leaving a party during the early morning hours of Jan. 7 when she came to a sharp curve too fast to keep traction, according to a Highway Patrol report. Her car went into a side skid and she lost control where the road is elevated above FM 1630. The car went airborne, struck a small tree, landed on the ground and began to roll.

During the accident, Bonnie, who wasn’t wearing a seatbelt, was ejected from the car and landed on the southside of FM 1630. The car stopped rolling in the westbound lane of FM 1630.

Jamai said she was staying with a friend in Denton because of her work as a registered nurse at Presbyterian Hospital of Denton when she received a call from her son asking about Bonnie. He had received a call from a friend, who was at the scene of the accident.

“That was really a chilling experience,” she said.

Bonnie spent 16 days in the intensive care unit at Harris Methodist Medical Center in Fort Worth and underwent two major surgeries. Her injuries included a closed head injury, traumatic brain injury, fractures in her face, eight broken ribs, punctured lungs, a broken pelvis, damage to her liver and spleen and back injuries.

“By God’s grace they’re all healing really well,” she said.

After leaving ICU, she spent an additional 12 days in the hospital before she was transferred to the Baylor Institute of Rehabilitation in Dallas for a month.

Now she is at the Centre for Neuro Skills in Irving, which is a transitional program for people who have had traumatic brain injuries.

“She’s still in a wheelchair, but she’s coming along really well,” Jamai said.

Bonnie shares an apartment with another person at the center and attends six hours of therapy each day. While the therapy includes physical, occupational and speech it also includes counseling and for Bonnie continuing work on her education.

Jamai said Bonnie will re-enroll at Muenster High School after spring break so she can graduate with her class in May. Homework and class assignments will be sent to the center for Bonnie to do.

It remains uncertain when Bonnie will be released to return home.

“They’re still doing initial tests for the case manager and therapists to see where she needs to be,” Jamai said. “Her speech is good; her thinking skills are improving.”

Jamai said Bonnie is suffering from alexia, which stems from a part of the brain being damaged that process what a person sees on paper.

“She can’t read what she just wrote,” Jamai said. “It’s a disorder pretty specific to brain injury. She’s going to have to learn to redirect and rewire so that she can accomplish that skill again. It’s pretty frustrating for a kid who’s been reading since she was four.”

Through the recovery, Bonnie has learned some lessons and is passing them on to others, Jamai said.

“She’s learning the consequences for her actions,” Jamai said. “She shouldn’t have been where she was... Unfortunately for her, the consequences are considerably worse than most people.”

Bonnie also has become a proponent of wearing seatbelts.

“She’s all the time telling her friends to ‘wear your seatbelt’,” Jamai said.

Those who are sponsoring the benefit — the saints and sinners — are people who understand the consequences of actions, Jamai said.

“They’re a great group of people,” Jamai said. “I’m completely humbled that they want to do this for Bonnie. It’s really inspiring they want to help this way.”

Since the accident, Jamai said she had often been asked by people what they could do to help, but she couldn’t think of anything.

“When a tragedy of this magnitude over takes your family or loved ones, you only think of the immediate, not the long term,” she said. “Others who have been through things like this knew there would be things before I knew.”

She said they have been through losses or major illness and wanted to help others who are going through the same thing.

“We are so thankful to live in a community where we take care of each other,” Jamai said. “The love and prayers of so many people is why she’s come back so strongly and so quickly. I get emotional when I stop to think of what all the people have done for Bonnie and me, it really means a lot.”

Tickets to the Benefit for Bonnie are available by calling 665-0950 or 612-1598, and are also available at the door.

Staff writer Jennifer Sicking may be contacted at jsicking@ntin.net.

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