Local News

TLC documents life of Knightdale woman paralyzed in pool accident

Posted January 15
Updated January 16

— A heartbreaking story several years ago captured the nation’s attention after a young woman from Knightdale suffered a spinal cord injury at her bachelorette party, leaving her paralyzed.

Today, Rachelle Chapman is set to appear in the national spotlight again, as the focus of a documentary.

Chapman’s accident happened a few weeks before her scheduled 2010 wedding to Chris Chapman, who she met at a Halloween party at East Carolina University. The wedding and honeymoon were postponed for more than a year.

“Nothing surprises me with Rach. Ever since her injury, she has been the positive driving force for everything,” Chris Chapman said.

Rachelle Chapman was paralyzed from the chest down after one of her friends teasingly pushed her into the pool, where her head hit the bottom. She has never harbored bitterness toward her friend, saying accidents happen and life goes on.

Although the friendship between Rachelle Chapman and the friend eventually ended for different reasons, Chapman has never identified the woman publicly.

“A lot of people think ‘oh, that’s friendship, she kept the girl safe and didn’t say her name,’ but it’s not about being friends with somebody, it’s about human decency,” she said.

Rachelle Chapman now has a 20-month old daughter, Kaylee, who was born through a surrogate. She is able to do all the day-to-day things that mothers do.

“Our lives are somewhat normal and somewhat totally crazy and if someone looked into our lives, they may think ‘oh my gosh, how do they do that,” Rachelle Chapman said. “I am a mom, I am a wife. I do the laundry, I don’t really cook because I’ve never cooked. That’s not just because I’m hurt.”

Rachel Chapman is a 31-year-old with a sense of style and a thirst for sport. She can move her arms, but not her fingers, and even plays wheelchair rugby.

“Which is a really intense sport where like chairs are smashing into each other. It’s awesome and I love it so much. I’m the only girl,” she said. “I’ve always been an athletic person. I was very competitive before I was hurt; I played tennis for 20 years.”

Later this month, the TLC network will air a 1-hour documentary on Rachelle Chapman’s life as a mother and wife who happens to be in a wheelchair.

“Do I wish there was a cure? One hundred percent and that’s something I’ll fight for until the day there is a cure,” Rachelle Chapman said.

Rachelle Chapman has also written a book about her challenge called “The Promise.” The documentary will air at 10 p.m. on Jan. 23 on TLC.


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