LITTLE ROCK (KATV) - One minute she was a vibrant active teenager at Mount Saint Mary Academy. The next she wasn't expected to survive a car crash. But she did. And now her parents have come up with a way to help others who are going through what they've been through.
"It was the weekend before thanksgiving."
It was November 22, 2009.
"My cell phone rang and it was Blaine. He told me that he and Mary had been in an accident," said Mary's mom, Patti Drake.
Mary Drake and her boyfriend, Blaine, had gone to Pine Bluff to see her grandparents. On the way back to Little Rock, Blaine says Mary's attempt to swat a large bug out of her way made her accidentally swerve into oncoming traffic.
Several cars crashed and many were injured. None as bad as Mary.
"I remember the emergency responder looked up at me and said, you can't help her. And we can't help her while you're in the way," said Mary's dad, Jim Drake.
Mary's parents were told to go to the hospital while they worked on saving Mary's life.
"You know, you have a sinking feeling, or at least I did, as we were going down the interstate. It was almost like, she didn't make it... (fights tears) so I didn't want to keep that thought in my mind," said Jim.
"It was later that we found out that they really didn't think Mary would even have made it to the hospital. That she shouldn't have made it probably past the crash site," said Patti.
Mary survived but every limb on her body was broken and she had suffered a severe head injury.
"We didn't get that, 'But she's going to be okay.' We never got that from them. And we never asked. We just thought we'll take what we can get," said Patti.
The days in the hospital turned to weeks. And then into months. After 8 months of surgeries, treatments, and rehab Mary was told she could go home.
"At first you go, yes! We get to go home," said Patti. "But then you go, oh my gosh... There's no call button, there's no nurse around the corner. What are we supposed to do now?"
But long before the Drakes could get used to their new normal, they needed new accommodations to facilitate Mary's needs.
"We had to build ramps and we had to remove carpet so the wheelchair would move around," said Jim. "Had to add an accessible bathroom and remodel because Mary's bedroom was upstairs."
Jim Drake says they were blessed and overwhelmed by the way their friends, church, and community helped them out.
"You look back now and reflect on all the people that came and helped us. Our support group and our church and our community and you go wow, what do other people doing if they don't have that. How are they getting through this?"
The pondering of that question is what led to the organization "Miracles for Mary: Guiding families through the transitions of a life-changing injury."
"We just want to help," said Patti. "We just want to give back a little bit."
The Drakes hope to help families going through similar situations in whatever ways they can.
"We feel like we can help them emotionally, financially and spiritually and help them through the transition," said Jim.
The Drakes hope Mary's miraculous story will offer hope to those that might be struggling in their faith.
"God is good, all the time. God didn't cause Mary's accident. Mary's accident was an accident. I believe God saved Mary from dying in this accident. I believe that a lot of people's live have been changed because of not only Mary surviving but the way Jim and I and are family and friends have responded to this tragic accident," said Patti.
"You often wonder, why did this happen? How could something like this happen and what's the purpose and we still haven't figured that out yet totally but we know that so many people's lives have changed because they have told us," said Jim. "We're going to put our trust in God to get us through this and so far He has."
"I would never have been able to do this on my own without divine intervention," said Patti. "Ever."
Mary continues her school work and will get her high school diploma in May.
Go to http://www.miraclesformary.com to read more about Mary's story and learn more about her parent's foundation, Miracles for Mary.