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Knightdale bride paralyzed before wedding

Posted February 22, 2011
Updated February 24, 2011

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— Just before her wedding, a Knightdale woman was paralyzed in a freak accident when one of her bridesmaids shoved her in a pool.

"I went in awkwardly and actually hit my head on the bottom," Rachelle Friedman said Tuesday. "I instantly knew something was kind of wrong." 

Friedman, 25, crushed the sixth vertebra in her neck and was left paralyzed from the chest down, just a month before her June wedding.

Friedman said it was her best friend who pushed her into the pool during her bachelorette party. 

"She is and always will be my best friend," Friedman said. 

The accident has left the friends leaning on each other. 

"I'm rehabilitating physically and she's rehabilitating emotionally, and we're there for each other," Friedman said. 

Chris Chapman said he has never had any animosity towards the woman who pushed his fiancee into the pool.

"I've pushed people all the time, just playing around, and sometimes accidents just happen," he said. 

The couple said the accident brought them closer together, but their needs changed overnight. 

"This house, as soon as I got out of rehab, had carpet everywhere. So, we had to rip that up and take all of our savings and put hardwood flooring down, so I could roll around easier," the wheelchair-bound Friedman said. 

The house no longer suited them, but they weren't in a position financially or emotionally to do anything about it.

"She needed enough room to be able to turn. The hallway was too tight," Chapman said. 

Knightdale bride paralyzed before wedding Knightdale bride paralyzed before wedding

The Wake County Homebuilders Association heard about the couple's problem and took on a massive remodeling project on their home. Walls were moved, doorways widened and an elevator was installed.

"Each one of us volunteered to be in charge of something," contractor Lewis Sadler said. 

With an army of subcontractors, volunteers and donated materials, crews finished in 11 days.  

"They never met me in my life, but they're out here sweating blood, putting my house together, just because they want to help, just because they know my story, and they're inspired by it," Friedman said. "That means so much to me." 

As a recreation management major at East Carolina University, Friedman took classes on recreation for people with disabilities. She now plays wheelchair rugby.

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  • libbygirl2004 Feb 28, 2011

    OK, some of you people need a reality check. I have briefly met Rachelle at a couple of Rugby tournaments but I don't really know her, but I know about being in a wheelchair. Breaking your neck or back & becoming paralyzed in unlike any other injury and bone break. You don't just wake up & say OK, I am paralyzed & adjust & go on with your life. You don't go back to work after 9 months. I am only paralyzed from the waist down & it took me over a year to get back to work. As far as the insurance, think about this. I know you can't fathom but my hospital bill for surgery and therapy back in 2003 was about $300,000. I had insurance but it only paid 80%. So you tell me, would you have an extra $60 grand (20%) to pay on hospital bills if it happened to you. She is right on schedule & doing the best she can. Most people can't even push the wheelchair & their own weight when they are injured. Just some thoughts for you to ponder. Not for or against, just adding some reality.

  • horsepamperer Feb 25, 2011

    That was my arguement about working. Not many people I know could go right back to work so quickly following such a trauma. Especially with the amount of rehab I'm sure she still has to do. Most people are out of work for a period of time following such things as broken bones or surgery. This young girl has to learn to adapt to being paralyzed after living her whole life being able to do things completely for herself. Believe me, cobra is outrageous!!!! I admire this couple tremendously. Their love and dedication to each other is apparent and most of us can only dream of experiencing that kind of love, given or received, in our lifetime. May God bless them - they are an inspiration!

  • surpie51 Feb 25, 2011

    All of you have been arguing over a false statement. Look up the corrections and it states that she never had Medicaid. She was working at A senior center and had insurance. Since she is unable to work she is paying a load in cobra. And for those of you talking about her getting a job? She plans to work asap. At 9 months post injury she is unable to be independent for 8 hrs. Everyone needs to get their facts straight. I know this couple and they have weighed every option carefully. They are an An amazing and loving couple

  • robprince89 Feb 24, 2011

    So...I guess my unmarried 52 year old brother should not be on Medicaid because he could be working and paying his medical bills? He is permanently disabled from diabetes, needs dialysys three days a week and on the kidney transplant list.
    I also guess when I ruptured two discs in my lower back at work in 2006 I should have sold my house we have worked so hard for and I should not have drawn workers comp from my employer and paid my own medical bills? Let me tell you, WC only pays 66 2/3 % of your regular salary. It was hard enough making ends meet even when my wife was working too,after I had two levels of spinal fusion and was out of work for 12 weeks. My wife is currently on unemplyment after loosing her job of 11 years.
    So according to some opinions/experience here(and we know their names/initials, they have been in this poor girls situation or mine or my brothers and were able to make everything work perfectly with no outside help? Please..Some people know everything..

  • polskamafia4 Feb 24, 2011

    old news...

  • horsepamperer Feb 24, 2011

    I am just glad that there are people out there that still has compassion for their fellow man. Willing to help out someone in NEED reguardless of their financial and/or social status. It doesn't matter who you are or what you have, eventually we all need a helping hand somewhere down the road. To think that someone shouldn't receive help just because they have a few nice things is apalling. People sometimes are too worried about what's in it for them or bitter because they aren't getting something they think they should. It's an imperfect system in an imperfect world. I'm just grateful to see situations like this that remind me that sometimes it does work out right. We need to get back to humanity and away from our petty selfishness.

  • l.e.bell Feb 24, 2011

    What none of you apparently realize is that the news cannot give the complete accurate story because they were not involved in the entire project. The HBA did not just decide to do this for her, they were approached with the idea by NBC. Rachelle and Chris were already contracted with a remodeler to make their home more accessible (not to the extent that it is now, but they did what they could afford). The home was not supposed to be so extensivly remodeled, but after GC's realized how much damage the home actually had, more projects were added on by the subs that were willing to donate their time and material.

    Her home was not worth $200,000 and was one of the least taken care of in the neighborhood. There was extensive damage (such as mold and pipes leaking in the walls) that would not have been known about until it was too late. So try not to look at the politics of it and realize an amazing thing went on in your community.

  • horsepamperer Feb 24, 2011

    My guess is some of them are probably in their 40's or better and STILL couldn't do any of those things. This couple seemed to be pretty responsible to be able to put money down on a house and have enough saved up to put hardwood floors down in the ENTIRE house fresh out of college. Trust me, I'm trying to get my floors redone and it's not cheap!!! I think they are probably more responsible than most of the people condemning them here. Might be why the hostility and resentment...

  • horsepamperer Feb 24, 2011

    l.e.bell - EXACTLY!!!!

  • l.e.bell Feb 24, 2011

    How many of you when you were fresh out of college would have been able to afford medical bills, accessible remodeling and house payments while only one person pays the bills? My guess...none. So stop being so negative and realize that a good thing was done for someone in need. It's disgusting to know that people in our community are so hurtful.

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