This woman used a heart-breaking life experience to find gratitude and healing, while inspiring others and bringing light and love to everyday heroes in the process.
In 2004, Kellie Haddock and her husband were visiting her husband’s parents, newborn baby in tow. After the visit, the three of them tucked into the car to drive home. The sun was setting, and Al Greene’s “Let’s Stay Together” was playing, Haddock remembered. The rest is a blur.
She vaguely remembers seeing someone’s cross necklace in front of her before being strapped to a gurney and loaded onto a helicopter. She remembers seeing her son pale and small and covered in wires. Hours later, in the hospital, Haddock remembers wondering about her husband and son.
“Nothing could have prepared me for what happened next,” Haddock wrote on her website.
A hospital chaplain came in and told her she was in a car accident. “Your husband was killed instantly from the impact.”
She was with her mother and sister, all weeping, and could barely breathe.
But it wasn’t over. She was soon released from the ER and learned that her 14-week-old son Eli had been transferred to intensive care. For three days, she didn’t leave his side, but he didn’t eat. He was having seizures and suffered great injury to his brain.
Haddock was told: “If he pulls through this, he likely will not have much of a life. He will probably not be able to walk, talk or show emotion.”
“In a few sentences, my world crashed down again,” Haddock wrote.
Her family and friends rallied to support her. Her former pastor led the group to come together, and they prayed.
“It was powerful and beautiful,” she said. And then things turned around.
When Haddock returned to the hospital that night, a nurse ran up to her and exclaimed that her son was eating again.
“Eli had seven bottles while you were gone!” the nurse told her. Haddock knew it was a miracle.
Eli ended up recovering from the accident much more than the doctors expected. He suffered brain injuries, but does not let that hinder him. He walks, talks, and is a delight, Haddock wrote.
“This whole journey has been a mix of the darkness right next to the beauty,” Haddock said.
Ten years later, Haddock wanted to reach out to the people who helped make that possible. “I want to thank the heroes that saved his life,” she said in a video announcing her “Thank You Project.”
Haddock reached out to hospital staff to get in touch with the team of rescuers from that accident.
She wanted to invite them to Eli’s 10th birthday party.
The air team that got Eli to the hospital when they did played a huge role in his survival, as did the respiratory nurse on hand when Eli had a seizure, and the first doctor to believe in them, Haddock explained.
Thanks to them, Eli was able to go home in a week.
“I’ve never been thanked,” one nurse said. “Look at him, he’s whole.”
Critical-care nurse Jodi McDuffie told Today it was hugely meaningful.
“And you realize, ‘I did the right thing by signing up as a nurse,'” she said.
The project has helped Haddock as well.