In the aftermath of her horrific accident Friday, Jacoby Miles was more concerned about her teammates than herself.
Now, people involved with gymnastics are rallying around the 15-year-old Puyallup girl, who is facing the stark reality of a serious spinal-cord injury that has left her paralyzed from the mid-chest down.
“She’s just an amazing girl who has spent all her life serving and volunteering,” said former Olympic weightlifter Melanie Roach, owner of the gym in Sumner where the accident occurred. “She’s just a great role model for all girls.”
Jacoby, a Level 9 gymnast, was hurt doing a “double back” dismount off the uneven bars during a practice session at Roach Gymnastics. Roach called it a “routine move, a skill she’s been doing three or four years. She’s done it successfully a thousand times.”
But this time, according to the family, Jacoby “got lost” before the second flip was completed and landed on her neck on an 8-inch mat.
Jacoby, who attends Ballou Junior High in Puyallup, was taken by ambulance to St. Joseph Medical Center in Tacoma, then transferred to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle for surgery, which took place Saturday and lasted six hours.
The family posted on the website getwelljacoby.blogspot.com that the surgery went “very well … doctors found the spinal cord had been completely pinched off but not severed.”
The post also said doctors are “very hopeful” that Jacoby will regain feeling in her arms and added, “Although the Dr said using her legs again would be in the ‘miracle category,’ we are praying for and believing she can make a full recovery — she is a STRONG girl!”
Jacoby was able to eat and drink Tuesday, and her siblings and cousins “got two smiles from her,” according to the blog.
A previous post on the site said that she was at first more concerned about her teammates crying than she was for herself.
Jason Miles, Jacoby’s father, said one of the biggest challenges now is lifting his daughter’s spirits as the reality of her situation has hit home.
“We’re trying to paint a picture of hope for her to stay strong, recover and, hopefully, pass on encouraging things to others.”
Jason Miles said the support of friends, family, church and the athletic community has been overwhelming, and he expressed gratitude.
He was hopeful that Jacoby — the oldest of six siblings — could soon be moved out of intensive care. The next step is rehab.
Jacoby, he said, can do biceps curls and shrug her shoulders but can’t put her arms back down. He said her vital signs are good and she can breathe on her own. He said that while the prognosis originally was bleak, doctors since have gained more hope.
“They say there’s a very good chance of gaining one or two more levels of functionality,” he said.
Roach is donating the proceeds from her new book, “Lift: Enjoying the Journey of Life,” available at Amazon.com, to the family. The book, which details Roach’s path to the Olympics, was published the day Jacoby got hurt.
“I know that’s not an accident,” Roach said. “As owner of the gym, I will dedicate every resource I have, every contact I’ve had, for raising enough money so Jacoby is cared for for the rest of her life.”
Among other fundraisers, the gym plans a benefit auction for Dec. 17. Information on the efforts is being updated at www.roachgymnastics.com/jacoby.asp and on the blog.
“We’re trying to help her understand God can use her through this to help a lot of people. We’ll take it one day at a time and work through this,” Jason Miles said.
HOW TO HELP
• Donations can be made at roachgymnastics.com or by calling 253-826-5999. They also can be sent or dropped off to: Team Jacoby Fund c/o Roach Gymnastics and Cheer, 1627 45th St. E., Bldg. D-103, Sumner, WA 98390.
The gym is collecting grocery gift cards to deliver daily meals to the family at home and at the hospital.
• For more ways to help and for updates on Jacoby’s condition, visit getwelljacoby.blogspot.com. Other fundraisers include gymnastics clinics today and a national get-well card campaign from other gymnasts.The News Tribune contributed to this report.