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A former cheerleader is warning parents of the hidden dangers of the sport after one failed backflip almost killed her, leaving her paralyzed from the neck down.

Laura Jackson, 33, from Northville, in Michigan, was trying out for her school’s cheerleading team at age 14 when she attempted a back tuck and landed on her head, instantly breaking her neck and being starved of oxygen.  

Nearly two decades later, she still relies on 24-hour ventilation and a neck brace to keep her alive after the ‘devastating’ split-second fall that left her quadriplegic in 2003.

Laura Jackson, 33, from Northville, in Michigan, was left paralyzed from the neck down after she attempted a back tuck during high school cheerleading tryouts and fell on her head

Laura Jackson, 33, from Northville, in Michigan, was left paralyzed from the neck down after she attempted a back tuck during high school cheerleading tryouts and fell on her head

Laura Jackson, 33, from Northville, in Michigan, was left paralyzed from the neck down after she attempted a back tuck during high school cheerleading tryouts and fell on her head 

Laura was just 14 when the 'devastating' split-second fall instantly broke her neck and left her quadriplegic in 2003. She is pictured before the accident

Laura was just 14 when the 'devastating' split-second fall instantly broke her neck and left her quadriplegic in 2003. She is pictured before the accident

Laura is pictured in the hospital after the accident

Laura is pictured in the hospital after the accident

Laura was just 14 when the ‘devastating’ split-second fall instantly broke her neck and left her quadriplegic in 2003. She is pictured before (left) and after the accident (right) 

The marketing professional has shared her story on TikTok to 'educate others about the dangers of cheerleading' and also inspire other people with disabilities

The marketing professional has shared her story on TikTok to 'educate others about the dangers of cheerleading' and also inspire other people with disabilities

The marketing professional has shared her story on TikTok to ‘educate others about the dangers of cheerleading’ and also inspire other people with disabilities

The marketing professional has dedicated her life to maintaining a positive mindset and hopes her TikTok videos will inspire other people with disabilities.

In her videos, Laura opens up about learning to live life to the fullest after her accident, recalling how she went from being a cheerleader to fighting for her life in a matter of seconds.  

‘I had been a cheerleader since I was in the third grade. Three out of my four sisters were cheerleaders and it was an important part of our life,’ she said. ‘I went in to do the tumbling portion of tryouts and decided I was going to do a back tuck. I landed on my head.

‘I’m not sure exactly what went wrong but the next thing I knew I was on the ground and unable to breathe,’ she explained. ‘I remember thinking that I had knocked the wind out of me. I just remember lying there looking up at people mouthing the words “I can’t breathe” over and over.

Laura said she started cheerleading in the third grade and it was an important part of her life

Laura said she started cheerleading in the third grade and it was an important part of her life

Laura said she started cheerleading in the third grade and it was an important part of her life

Laura said she started cheerleading in the third grade and it was an important part of her life

Laura said she started cheerleading in the third grade and it was an important part of her life

Laura's heart stopped seven times after her accident because her bones were pinching her brain stem. She is pictured with her parents and sisters in the hospital

Laura's heart stopped seven times after her accident because her bones were pinching her brain stem. She is pictured with her parents and sisters in the hospital

Laura’s heart stopped seven times after her accident because her bones were pinching her brain stem. She is pictured with her parents and sisters in the hospital 

‘Eventually, I passed out from lack of oxygen. I was not given CPR until the paramedics came about seven minutes after I broke my neck.’

Lara was driven to a local hospital and was then airlifted to another, where she stayed for seven months.   

‘I broke my neck on Tuesday. By Thursday, my heart had stopped seven times because my bones were pinching my brain stem and they decided to do surgery on Saturday,’ she said. ‘I was given a 50 percent chance of survival.

‘They told my parents that I was paralyzed from the neck down the night I was there.’

Laura went through a grueling 14-hour surgery to save her life and was forced to have a feeding tube fitted that she still uses for liquids 19 years later.

Laura, pictured with her sister Jenna Jackson, was given a 50 percent of survival when she underwent a grueling 14-hour surgery to save her life

Laura, pictured with her sister Jenna Jackson, was given a 50 percent of survival when she underwent a grueling 14-hour surgery to save her life

Laura, pictured with her sister Jenna Jackson, was given a 50 percent of survival when she underwent a grueling 14-hour surgery to save her life

Laura was forced to have a feeding tube fitted that she still uses for liquids 19 years later. She also relies on 24-hour ventilation and a neck brace to keep her alive

Laura was forced to have a feeding tube fitted that she still uses for liquids 19 years later. She also relies on 24-hour ventilation and a neck brace to keep her alive

Laura was forced to have a feeding tube fitted that she still uses for liquids 19 years later. She also relies on 24-hour ventilation and a neck brace to keep her alive

'I am fully paralyzed from the neck down and require a ventilator 24 hours a day,' she explained. 'I have a nurse, caregiver, or family member with me at all times'

'I am fully paralyzed from the neck down and require a ventilator 24 hours a day,' she explained. 'I have a nurse, caregiver, or family member with me at all times'

 ‘I am fully paralyzed from the neck down and require a ventilator 24 hours a day,’ she explained. ‘I have a nurse, caregiver, or family member with me at all times’

She recalled how the difficult news made it hard for her to see a future, but she is now committed to staying positive, despite relying on 24-hour care from family and caregivers at home. 

‘It was devastating and unfathomable to hear that news at 14. I had a hard time imagining what my future and life would and could look like,’ she said. ‘They did a spinal fusion, tracheotomy, and added a gastrostomy tube (G-tube).

‘I am fully paralyzed from the neck down and require a ventilator 24 hours a day. I have a nurse, caregiver, or family member with me at all times in case the ventilator comes off as I cannot breathe on my own.

‘I have gained a little bit more movement in my neck than in the beginning, but my condition has pretty much stayed the same over the years.

Laura managed to graduate from high school on time, despite spending the first semester of her freshman year in the hospital

Laura managed to graduate from high school on time, despite spending the first semester of her freshman year in the hospital

Laura managed to graduate from high school on time, despite spending the first semester of her freshman year in the hospital 

The marketing professional shared that she is 'incredibly thankful' to have had the support of her family and friends over the years

The marketing professional shared that she is 'incredibly thankful' to have had the support of her family and friends over the years

 The marketing professional shared that she is ‘incredibly thankful’ to have had the support of her family and friends over the years

Laura lives with her parents, and they stay with her whenever she doesn't have a nurse or a caregiver available

Laura lives with her parents, and they stay with her whenever she doesn't have a nurse or a caregiver available

Laura lives with her parents, and they stay with her whenever she doesn’t have a nurse or a caregiver available

‘Almost 19 years later I realize you don’t have to breathe to have moments that take your breath away.’

Laura didn’t let her accident stop her from achieving her goals, and she managed to graduate from high school on time, despite spending the first semester of her freshman year in the hospital.  

‘I took summer classes and everything to catch up,’ she explained. ‘I went on to receive my bachelor’s degree in business administration and marketing and my MBA a few years later.’

Laura has had ‘so many beautiful experiences’ after her accident, and she aims to show her followers that ‘life doesn’t stop with paralysis.’  

‘It showed me that I was capable of facing and adapting to any situation and that even though your life might not go the way you thought it would or think it should, it can be equally as meaningful and beautiful,’ she said. 

Laura started making her TikTok videos 'just for fun,' thinking she 'could bring a bit of joy to someone's day,' but she is now using her platform to help others facing similar obstacles

Laura started making her TikTok videos 'just for fun,' thinking she 'could bring a bit of joy to someone's day,' but she is now using her platform to help others facing similar obstacles

Laura started making her TikTok videos ‘just for fun,’ thinking she ‘could bring a bit of joy to someone’s day,’ but she is now using her platform to help others facing similar obstacles 

Laura has had 'so many beautiful experiences' after her accident, and she aims to show her followers that 'life doesn't stop with paralysis'

Laura has had 'so many beautiful experiences' after her accident, and she aims to show her followers that 'life doesn't stop with paralysis'

Laura has had ‘so many beautiful experiences’ after her accident, and she aims to show her followers that ‘life doesn’t stop with paralysis’

'Even though your life might not go the way you thought it would or think it should, it can be equally as meaningful and beautiful,' she said

'Even though your life might not go the way you thought it would or think it should, it can be equally as meaningful and beautiful,' she said

‘Even though your life might not go the way you thought it would or think it should, it can be equally as meaningful and beautiful,’ she said 

Laura started making her TikTok videos ‘just for fun,’ thinking she ‘could bring a bit of joy to someone’s day.’  

‘But as I told my story I hoped that it would be able to help others facing obstacles and struggle, educate others about the dangers of cheerleading, and show that life can be big and fun, disability or not,’ she explained. 

‘We all face trials and tribulations in our life and they shape us into the people we are. I wanted to show that life can move forward in powerful ways despite our dark and down obstacles.’

Laura shared that she is ‘incredibly thankful’ to have had the support of her family and friends over the years, saying she lives with her parents, and they stay with her whenever she doesn’t have a nurse or a caregiver available. 

‘I hope to continue speaking with children and adults about disability and my motto “move your mind,”‘ she added. ‘[I made the decision] that if I couldn’t move anything, I was going to move my mind, to try to keep things positive, to set goals and achievements for myself, and to be fearlessly me.’

Source: dailymail

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