Childhood sweethearts marry despite life-altering accident

Anna Claire Waldrop had barely been engaged a month when she was met with a terrible fate. She was driving home from a party with her fiancé, James (or Jimbo as he’s known), when a drunk driver sped up and rammed into their car from behind as he tried to overtake them.

Her car was instantly thrown into the air, flipping over several times before landing upside down in a ditch. James shot through the sunroof, but when the car finally came to a standstill, Anna Claire was still strapped inside.

Car crash in our yard

Jimbo was fortunate enough to come away from the accident with minor injuries, but sadly Anna Claire was not so lucky. During the collision, she broke her neck, leaving her a quadriplegic. Such a terrible blow for a young couple supposed to be celebrating their upcoming nuptials. Instead, Anna Claire would be spending the time fighting for her life.

It took Anna Claire just over a month to truly realize the severity of her injuries and the impact it would have on the rest of her life. It’s only when she looked around the room during her first rehabilitation session and saw other patients in a similar state that her paralysis began to sink in.

Anna Claire is eternally grateful to Jimbo for standing by her side and helping her get through the awful ordeal. "He had to take care of me physically, as well as emotionally, and he did a phenomenal job," she said. "I don’t know if I would have done so well if the roles had been reversed."

Her life as she knew it had ceased to exist. "I was about to get my bachelor’s degree, get married, start my adult life. Everything was on the edge," she said. Anna Claire suddenly had to rearrange her whole life, but fortunately had the love of her life right by her side as well as family and friends to help her through it.

The 24-year-old was adamant about not giving up and was determined to gain control of her life again. Her biggest motivation was her wedding day, which she wasn’t going to change for the world. And sure enough, with the help of her loved ones and professional caregivers, Anna Claire married her childhood sweetheart just eight months after the tragic accident. 

On a beautiful autumn day, during a garden ceremony in their hometown of New Albany, Mississippi, the couple who have known each other since kindergarten tied the knot. Despite everything they had been through, their love was strong enough to help them overcome the toughest of obstacles.

Jimbo graduated from college and got a job as a middle school teacher and football coach. He’s done everything in his power to become the primary caregiver for his wife and has vowed to always be there for her.

With everything they've been through, the two have grown even stronger and have established a new life together. They don’t want people to pity them, because they couldn’t be happier together. "It’s not sad at all. My heart breaks for other people who never got to experience a love that I’ve experienced," said Jimbo. "I wake up every single day with somebody I love more than anything in the world," he continued.

As a result of ongoing occupational and recreational therapy and a great deal of willpower, Anna Claire can now even move her wrist and has learned to wiggle her toes. With such a loving husband at her side, she hopes to one day be able to live independently again.

What a moving story — so tragic yet so inspiring. Fortunately, the two are there for each other and as long as they stay together, they’ll surely be able to overcome any hurdles that life throws their way.


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