Kara was supposed to have been an October baby. Her parents, Roy and Millie, had already begun prepping their firstborn, Lori, for what it would mean to be a big sister. The family was excited about her upcoming arrival when they headed out for a trip to pick-up peaches on a late summer day. Roy had bought a bushel of peaches for Millie, who had been craving them, but had left them at work. So Roy, Millie, Lori, and their nephew, 19-month-old Mitch, went to go pick them up. But, life as they knew it, would never be the same.
On the way home, their car was rear-ended by a drinking driver and burst into flames as it flipped. Millie, Lori, and Mitch were thrown from the car. As the car flipped over them, gasoline and flames spilled onto their bodies. Roy did his best to put out the flames using his bare hands.
Millie, who was 7-months pregnant with Kara sustained a broken neck and burns on 75% of her body. Three days after the crash, her doctors decided to do an emergency c-section and deliver the baby. Kara was born on August 17, 1971, two months pre-mature. As a result of her pre-mature birth, there were problems with Kara’s eyesight. She would live her life legally blind.
Kara does not remember the crash that forever changed her life before she was ever born. In addition to learning to live with the challenges of her own disability, she would never meet her oldest sister who died two weeks after the crash. She didn’t get the benefit of infant bonding with parents to cradle and rock her. Her Aunt Robbie, Millie’s sister, had to take on that role while her parents struggled to recover from their own life-threatening injuries. She was two months old before her father came home and it was even longer before her mother could hold her.
But she does know how precious life is and how grateful her family is that she survived. She knows what it means to persevere and to be strong and to love and support one another when life is hard. Now married to David Hensel and a mother to two amazing sons of her own, Collin and Caston, Kara, knows the bond of family. She hopes her family’s story reminds others how sacred that bond is and to value life. She hopes it will remind others to think carefully about their choices and know that everything can change in an instant.