(Help Katie here!)
For 26 years, Katie Schlinger led what some would call a charmed existence. She grew in Florida then traveled the world, even teaching elementary school in Syria.
"I've lived in Syria in a third world country for three years, I've been to 10 countries," Katie remembered.
There she knew what to do, what customs to follow, how to stay safe:
"I know how to protect myself, the one time I let my guard down, this happens to me," Katie, now in a wheelchair, said.
Of places, in Aiken. Katie was visiting her brother who was having an emergency surgery; she let her guard down while fighting with her boyfriend on the phone in a hotel parking lot.
"A gentleman came up to me and asked if he could have a cigarette," she explained.
And he asked for a ride: When Katie told him why she was there, he said that he too had family in the hospital and that he was worried. Would she drive him the four minutes to the hospital?
"I felt for him and I said, 'yes, as long as you don't hurt me,' I said it jokingly."
But, when they got to the hospital, he told her to keep going.
"He said to keep driving," Katie said, "and I was crying and he hit me in the head with the pistol, keep driving, if you don't want me to kill you, keep driving."
Katie escaped by crashing her car, but not before she was pistol whipped, and sexually assaulted.
"He broke my neck in six places, paralyzed the side of my body," she cried. "I can't move my arm, I can't dress myself, I can't even brush my teeth."
But she can still laugh.
"I know I'm going to walk again and I refuse to live my life in this wheelchair, even though I've grown fond of it"
And she has a lot of lessons for all of us to learn.
One of those, "Don't give up. Whatever situation cancer or an illness, whether a victim or not don't want them to give up, because I wanted more than anything to die, but I believe I'm going to have a life again and my life's going to be better."
On Thursday January 30th we'll bring you Katie's full story. Most importantly, perhaps, Katie is now fighting another battle and this one you can help with.
(To help Katie now, click here and tune in at 6 on January 30th for more information.)
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