Sigma Nu is pleased to announce that Anna Claire Waldrop of Horn Lake, MS, will be the recipient of the 2021 Sigma Nu Charity Bowl. Read Anna Claire’s story.
Anna Claire Waldrop
The 2021 Charity Bowl recipient is Anna Claire Waldrop, a 27-year-old current resident of Horn Lake, MS. Anna Claire is a wife, dog mom, daughter, sister, cousin, co-worker, and friend. She grew up in New Albany, MS and went on to attend college at Northeast Mississippi Community College, Delta State University, and the University of Memphis.
Anna Claire has been living with quadriplegia since 2016, when she and her husband, Jimbo, were in an automobile accident involving an intoxicated driver. While Jimbo miraculously survived, avoiding major injuries by exiting the vehicle via the broken sunroof, Anna Claire sustained an incomplete C4-C6 spinal cord injury during the wreck. Anna Claire and Jimbo attended school together all their lives and were newly engaged, attending their final semester at Delta State at the time of the wreck.
Post wreck, Anna Claire was airlifted to Regional One Health in Memphis, TN, where doctors began surgery to decompress and stabilize her spine. Anna Claire was intubated due to her inability to breathe independently, and her healing journey began. After spending one month in trauma ICU, Anna Claire was then transferred to the Shepherd Center in Atlanta, GA, for an additional three and a half months of intense rehabilitation.
Whenever Anna Claire arrived at the Shepherd Center, she could not breathe independently or move anything other than her right arm. The staff worked with Anna Claire to wean off of the ventilator. Her trach was capped, giving Anna Claire the ability to finally speak since the accident. Anna Claire was given a temporary power wheelchair to utilize before receiving one of her own, as this would be her primary means of independence in the months and years to follow. Life as she knew it was completely altered, but Anna Claire remained resilient and motivated to continue pushing forward, holding onto hope in Christ.
Anna Claire really wanted to finish her bachelor’s degree in speech and hearing sciences; therefore, she began to do so shortly after the wreck (while still in rehabilitation at the Shepherd Center). With the help of accommodating teachers, advanced technology, supportive family, friends, occupational therapists, physical therapists, etc., she was able to marry her sweetheart on their original wedding date and graduate with her bachelor’s degree in December 2016.
Over the past four years, Anna Claire has continuously gotten stronger from working out daily in the home gym that her husband created and attending graduate school at the University of Memphis. Anna Claire has regained a tremendous amount of upper body strength and continues to improve her level of independence daily. She does not have fine motor skills in her hands, but is able to feel sensations throughout her body. Anna Claire also recently graduated with her master’s degree in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) and is currently working for a Behavioral Analysis clinic from home.
Despite her lack of fine motor skills, Anna Claire has managed to resume activities (in a modified manner) that once made life “normal”. She has relearned how to put on her own makeup, lightly clean around the house, do laundry, paint, write only using a sharpie pen, and so forth.
Anna Claire has been working diligently each day over the past year to push herself in her manual wheelchair, as opposed to using her power wheelchair for daily transportation. Most recently, she overcame a huge milestone: being able to push herself up and down her home gym ramp with no assistance.
Being this year’s Charity Bowl recipient absolutely means the world to Anna Claire. She feels this is a huge blessing that has unraveled in God’s perfect timing! Anna Claire hopes to use this opportunity to independently drive to work and simply be there for those that God places in her path!