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Benefit set for paralyzed Dickinson teen

DICKINSON, N.D. After an October car accident seriously injured Dickinson teen Amber Braun, the doctors told her family she would be paralyzed. Now, with determination and daily therapy, Amber's beginning to get feeling back in her legs and conti...

Amber Braun
Amber Braun

DICKINSON, N.D.

After an October car accident seriously injured Dickinson teen Amber Braun, the doctors told her family she would be paralyzed.

Now, with determination and daily therapy, Amber's beginning to get feeling back in her legs and continues working to regain her health.

Braun, 14, who was involved in a car accident Halloween night with four other teen girls near Menoken, will have a benefit held in her honor Sunday in Dickinson, to help the family raise funds to cover medical expenses accumulated.

After the accident, Braun first spent time at St. Alexius Medical Center in Bismarck and then was transferred to Gillette Children's Speciality Healthcare in St. Paul for additional care.

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Three other passengers were also injured in the accident and the other vehicle occupant died as a result of the accident.

Sheila Braun, Amber's mother, said Amber is "doing good" and has "high spirits."

Amber, a freshman at Dickinson High School, and her mother have not been home to Dickinson since the accident. If all goes well, Amber may be able to go home by mid-February, but there will be changes that will need to be made to the house, such as wheelchair accessibility.

Amber's come a long way, she added.

"She's talking well now, she's even starting to get a little feeling in her legs," Sheila said. "They (the doctors) call her their rock-star patient."

Her health improvements are attributed to Amber being athletic, she added.

Initially, Amber was brought into the hospital with a broken nose, a broken collarbone, a collapsed lung, third, fourth and fifth vertebrae broken, and two broken legs.

"They told us she'd be absolutely paralyzed," Sheila said. "Amber is now actually getting sensory back in her legs. She is now feeling things, which they thought she would never do."

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Amber cannot move her fingers yet, she added.

Keeping Amber hopeful is important, Sheila said.

"To get us through, it's just keeping up her spirits, which she has wonderful spirits," Sheila said. "If for any reason I see her down, it takes a little bit and I have her going. She's just awesome that way. Sometimes we're just in the room laughing our butts off over nothing. That's what we rely on, that's what gets us through."

Sheila stays on a small couch in Amber's room at the hospital.

Carol Pritchard, a teacher at Hagen Junior High School in Dickinson, said she was Amber's teacher and has known the family for a number of years.

"She's very fun-loving and has a lot of friends," Pritchard said. "She is just happy to be with her family and friends, and is an all-around good kid."

Pritchard said she stays in contact with the family to monitor Amber's progress and said the community has been supportive of the family.

Amber has four brothers: Allen, 23; Patrick, 21; Brandon, 17; and Jayden, 5.

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Amber's father, Bryan, who works for Roughrider Electric Cooperative Inc., has been battling power outages throughout the area, and said he doesn't think he'll be able to attend the benefit Sunday due to work obligations, but said the medical expenses have caused a financial crunch for the family.

Amber, with a somewhat hoarse voice, said Friday she misses her family and her dogs. She said her daily therapy is difficult sometimes and can be painful.

"Amber pretty much will be coming home in a wheelchair," Shelia said. "But if you ask Amber if she's going to walk, she says 'hell yeah I am.' That's her attitude."

The benefit is scheduled from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Sunday at the Elks Lodge.

Amber also has a CaringBridge Web site, which Sheila said she enjoys looking at. It can be accessed at http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/amberbraun .

A benefit account has been established for Amber at Gate City Bank in Dickinson. Donations can be dropped off or mailed to Gate City Bank, 204 Sims St., Dickinson, ND 58601, Attn: Amber Braun Benefit Account.

The Dickinson Press and the Herald are Forum Communications Co. newspapers.

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