On July 10, escorted by her father, 26-year-old Brittney Hitchcock of Indiana rose from her wheelchair and walked to meet her groom at the altar, with the help of a frame. It was the result of four years of hard work and rehabilitation.
“I knew that I wanted to walk down the aisle,” Brittney told The Epoch Times in an interview, “so I had to practice getting more strength in my upper body, and my legs, and my core, to stand up and walk.”
In 2017, Brittany and her son were in an ATV accident. Brittany pulled the boy on top of her, taking the blunt force; he escaped with only scratches on his back, but Brittany suffered bruising and burst the first lumbar vertebra in her spine.
She had rods placed in her back and suffered three seizures in the hospital. Seizures prevented her from starting therapy, and the force of the convulsions displaced the rods in her spine. Brittany underwent further surgery.
“The doctor told [my family] that I was never going to walk again. There was ‘no chance at all,'” she recalled. “When my family saw that I was making strides, they just kept pushing me and saying, ‘You got this, you got this, don’t give up.’ And I just never gave up. I had to do what I had to do for my kids.”
Entering rehabilitation, Brittany started to feel movement in her legs. Hope returned, and kept her motivated.
When Brittany’s partner, Glen, who she met on Facebook, proposed in the hospital in front of her entire family, the couple set a date for the following year, allowing Brittany time to work on her legs and upper body strength. She attended therapy up to three times a week.
Describing her wedding day as “the most perfect day ever,” Brittany told The Epoch Times that nerves consumed her before the big moment. “I didn’t want to trip or fall,” she said. “But I did it, and it was just seeing everyone’s reaction that had never seen me walk before.”
(Courtesy of Brittney Hitchcock)
Glen had only seen videos of Brittany’s most recent progress, since work kept him from attending every therapy session. Seeing his shocked, tearful response as his bride walked down the aisle was “really, really magical,” said Brittany.
Something else that Brittany’s doctors said would never happen again for her was another pregnancy. However, she is pregnant and will be welcoming the baby at the end of this year.
The newlywed mom credits her family and husband for providing a rock-solid support system throughout her recovery. Brittany claims Glen helped motivate her through moments of hopelessness: “He stood by my side, he just never left.”
She also recalls being pushed to the limit by her therapists—a group of experts who are “like family” to her—and welcomed the challenge. Initially worried about how the outside world would perceive her, she now welcomes questions and the opportunity to educate others about life as a wheelchair user.
Brittany even has hope that she will walk more in the future.
For some, Brittany reflected, the journey is simply a little harder than for others. She advises other people, “It’s okay to struggle, but don’t give up.”