You’re supposed to remember the good times: the anniversaries, the birthdays, the milestones.
The Marshall Family certainly does that. But one memory – not a happy one – will forever remain for them. What distinguishes this family, though, is that they have turned their tragedy into a mission.
It was Memorial Day, May 29, 2006. James, Sheyna, Christian (6), Justin (5), and McKenna (2) were on a family outing in the Washington, D.C. area, spending their last weeks there before transferring to Texas. All the details, down to what everyone ate that day, can be remembered. And then, everything goes blank.
On their way home – the Marshalls stopped at a red light – teens slammed into the family car. The teens were street racing, going up to 90 miles an hour.
Christian was killed instantly. Justin’s head was crushed and his body burned with gasoline. McKenna’s legs were broken. Both James and Sheyna had concussions.
Six years after the tragedy, seizures from Justin’s traumatic brain injury are getting worse. Some days, they tally well into the hundreds. Some, put Justin (now 11) in the emergency room.
His doctors suggest a radical and risky surgery: sever the damaged right hemisphere of his brain from the left hemisphere. Surgeons are confident the right side of Justin’s brain is only serving to host his increasing seizures.
James, Sheyna, and Justin agree that the surgery will not just improve, but save, his life.
The surgery – Justin’s 13th since the accident – would take a grueling nine hours.
Now, weeks after the surgery, Justin is out of the hospital and back home. And the Marshall Family is celebrating a milestone: no more seizures.
Sheyna and Justin are now committed to sharing their story with students in Southern Colorado as part of the Drive Smart Colorado campaign.