About a year ago at this time, doctors, friends and family weren't sure whether Lacey Picard was going to live.
Picard, 38, suffered a traumatic brain injury after the horse she was riding near Park City was struck by a car. She was life-flighted to Salt Lake City, where doctors worked to mitigate the massive swelling in her brain. After surviving through emergency measures to save her life, she slowly began her long path toward rebuilding it.
Picard is still in a wheelchair, and the former chiropractic doctor lives in an assisted living facility at the South Davis Community Hospital. But she's also able to have conversations with people, smile at them and even crack a few jokes if she's in the right mood. To Rhonda Devereaux, who remembers her friend's uncertain future in the moments after the collision, that's a hopeful sign of progress. It can also be frustrating.
Thanks to the mental leaps Picard's damaged brain has been able to make, she is more aware of her situation and has memories of her life before the crash Â even though she doesn't remember the crash itself. That can make the physical setbacks she still endures that much more painful. Picard, an avid horse rider since she was 5 years old, cannot move on her own because of extreme nerve contraction in her body, and she still requires help for daily tasks such as getting dressed and eating.
"She's in an awful, awful spot, because she knows where she's at," Devereaux said.
Picard had no medical insurance at the time of the crash, so her vast medical expenses have been covered by the state-run Medicaid system, which only goes so far in providing for rehabilitative care such as physical and speech therapy. She may never be able to return to work or return to the saddle like she once did, but her friends believe she still has a lot of growth ahead of her, and they worry that without more comprehensive and costlier treatment, Picard's progress could be stifled.
"She's got so much further to go," Devereaux said. "She hasn't hit the wall yet of what her potential is â¦ and you have to give her that chance."
The teenage girl who caused the crash in September 2011 was ordered by a judge to pay restitution, but Devereaux says the penalty was a drop in the bucket. Picard's lawyer considered pursuing damages in a civil suit, but so far none has been filed.
Picard's legal co-guardians Devereaux, Picard's friend Linda Watkins and Picard's father believe she could do better in a South Jordan facility that specializes in physical therapy for patients with brain and neurological injuries.
To help with the costs of regular sessions, Picard's friends have organized a golf tournament scheduled for Saturday morning at Soldier Hollow Golf Course in Heber.
Devereaux said she feels an obligation to see her friend through to her full potential because Picard once helped her in a similar way. She first met Picard after becoming one of her patients in her Park City chiropractic clinic. Devereaux was having nearly constant headaches after undergoing surgery to remove a brain tumor. She credits Picard's work on her during one session as a seemingly miraculous release from her pain.
After Picard's crash, Devereaux "felt compelled to come [visit] more and more regularly until I was here every day." She was there when Picard spoke for the first time. She said: "I'm scared."
It's still difficult for Picard to communicate everything that's on her mind, but when asked if she knew about the upcoming fundraiser, she said "yes" in a constricted voice that registered barely above a whisper.
"I don't feel like I deserve it," she said.
Devereaux did her best to reassure her that she did deserve it, and reminded her of the friends who have visited her and pulled for her in the past year.
"That's amazing," she said.
How to donate
There are many ways to donate funds for Lacey Picard's continuing rehabilitation needs.
The Love for Lacey Picard Charity Golf Tournament is scheduled for Saturday at 8:30 a.m. at the Soldier Hollow Golf Course in Heber. Teams have already been registered, but anyone is welcome to attend a lunch after the tournament, which will start at 1:30 p.m. The lunch costs $25 per person.
A third-party trust has been set up to help pay for Picard's expenses, which accepts donations through a PayPal account. A link to that account can be found on a website set up by Picard's supporters.
Tax-deductible donations can also be made through the Mountain Life Church in Park City. Donations made for Picard through the church must be designated as such.