Sixteen years ago, Essie Lucero's life was changed forever after a near-deadly car accident. While she's made vast improvements since that horrific night, she's still fighting for her independence.
"Knowing that I can do it," Essie said. "I sometimes have to remind myself that I can do it, but I can do it."
For more than a decade, she's been working to regain the mobility she lost at just 11 years old after a car accident in 2002.
"We hit the asphalt wrong, we flew about 15 feet in the air on our side and hit the tree on our side and slid down the tree," said Michele Lucero, Essie's mother. "The part of the vehicle that made the most impact was where Essie was sitting."
Her parents and two sisters were lucky enough to walk away. Lucero spent weeks in the hospital where she was told she may never walk again.
"They said she'd have no return from chest level down and she can actually stand up with assistance," Michele said. "Trust me the first time she did that I just cried."
Lucero has been defying the odds throughout her recovery and now she's ready for more.
"I'd always have to think about of all the modifications I'd have to have, so I never thought I'd be able to," Essie said. "Then I see all these awesome vehicles nowadays that are more wheelchair friendly and I'm like, I can do that."
At 27 years old, Essie is ready to get back on the road, but this time behind the wheel of her own car.
"An easier way to get from point A to point B and not have all the stuff blocking it in between," Essie said.
The customized car will cost Essie $15,000 and she's hoping the community will step in to help her clear yet another milestone.
"She's chosen to live life happier than most people do who can get up and walk every day," Michele said.
Essie said this car will give her the freedom she's worked so hard to have over the last few years.
"It takes motivation, but sometimes that motivation is lacking. I just remind myself, you can do it and do it," Essie said.
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