Before we start our conversation with this week’s featured person, I want you to stop for a second and think about your body. What has your body been through? You see, when it comes to your story/journey/and experiences, your body holds just as much about who you are as your mind and your soul. Every scar, ache, blemish could tell a story of its own about who you are. However, we often forget about our bodies (I know I do). We may not think about or appreciate the fact that to even read this sentence your eye is making around four movements per second to stay consistently focused on this task. Our bodies matter, and we may not appreciate that statement in the same way as someone who has had a specific function of their bodies disabled. What if you woke up one morning and couldn’t walk, talk, see, or hear? Things you do every day without thought are now gone, and adjusting to this disability becomes apart of your normalcy to maintain some sort of routine. What would be your attitude? How would you handle it? How would your relationship with your body look? Think about it, and then let’s talk with Ms. Lizzy Pritchet.
Now, I (Anthony Crosby) have personally known Lizzy for a while. I have heard parts of her story a couple of times because Lizzy is very gifted at sharing what she’s been through and using her experiences to encourage others. So, perhaps some of you reading this piece today may already know a bit about Lizzy’s life and situation. If so, that’s great! My hope for you would be that maybe you learn something new about Lizzy, the person, that perhaps you didn’t know before! I know I did, and I’ll share exactly what that was at the end of this post. However, if this is your first time hearing from Ms. Pritchet, then I’ll shut my trap and let her take it away! “I’ve lived here (Elko) since I was ten years old and I’ve always loved racing motocross so, in high school, I started racing. After various injuries, I put that aside and got really into health and fitness. I was a personal trainer and managed a gym (Anytime Fitness, Spring Creek) and taught Zumba. I was just this crazy fitness girl. I loved it. My boss owned a few Anytime Fitnesses, and he was going to open one up in San Diego and asked if I wanted to run it…absolutely! I got to move down to San Diego, and that was the most awesome thing. I started talking with the founder of the Muscle Beach fitness shows, and he wanted me to come to do a fitness show there with a lot of media. I worked at this amazing gym; it was right on the Padres stadium; I could go out on the balcony and watch the Dodgers and Padres on the spin bike. It was insane. I also worked at a restaurant/nightclub called “Whiskey Girl.” I basically got paid to be a party ambassador; that’s what I called it. I also taught Zumba on the beach. I was always moving.”
That sounds like a dream set up! When did things change for you, Lizzy? “I was riding my bike to work one day, and I got hit by a trolly train. That was in 2011. I don’t remember anything. It was like I was laying on the beach one day and the next day I woke up in the hospital hooked up to all these monitors. The doctors were telling my parents I was never going to move anything below my shoulders or breathe on my own again. I was in the ICU, in an induced coma, for two and a half weeks. Once I woke up, I ended up riding in an ambulance to Reno for acute care. I was only there for two and a half weeks; my parents were expecting me to be there a lot longer. From there I was flown to Seattle for inpatient rehab, then I came back to Elko. I had really just been focusing on my recovery. For three years, I went to Salt Lake every week for therapy appointments and that really didn’t get to me except for the last six months, but I didn’t mind the drive because I would just sing loudly in the car and dance as much as I could. The last six months of it were rough because I just wanted to get back into “real life.” So, I decided to come back and start getting back into life. I went back to school; I thought the homework part would be the most difficult thing about going back to school but trying to do school when you don’t have your hands just makes things more difficult. I ended up getting my associates, which was really cool; I graduated last May. Currently, I’m still going to therapy twice a week (in Elko), but when I was going to therapy in Salt Lake they had me on a mentor panel where you’d go to high schools and colleges and speak about overcoming obstacles; I talked about not only being physically active but active in my faith, community, and relationships. I loved it; I loved speaking to high schools and colleges. So, when I got home I was like…I want to do that. I want to be a motivational speaker. I’ve been trying to speak to the schools around here and with different groups of people. I’m willing to go speak to anybody because I feel like if I can help just one person, that’s how I can give back.”
Despite her situation, Lizzy is still one active woman! She’s excellent at getting out and doing it all! With all that you have going on, is there any one thing you specifically have your sights on in the future for yourself, Lizzy? “Before, I did everything.. fitness, motocross, played guitar, participated in every sport, rock climbing etc. Now, since I can’t do physical activities, I’m doing a bunch of projects, getting involved with Andy Bell and DCB Outdoors (Andy Bell: A True Outdoors Man), I have my public speaking, therapy twice a week, Toastmasters…I want to do everything! I’m actually in the process of getting a stem cell treatment. I got this first treatment done at the end of February, and so far I actually have more sensation in my abdomen then ever before; I could actually feel my stomach grumbling and I couldn’t before! The other day I told my mom that I felt like I had a blister on my heel. She kind of looked at me, but she ended up taking off my sock, and sure enough, the skin was raw on my heel. I’m really excited about that. I sometimes have a hard time of focusing on just one thing, but I am excited about that.”
That is very exciting, Lizzy! We’ll all keep you in our thoughts and prayers! Are there any other areas of your life that you’re still working through? “In this injury, most things are obstacles. That sounds like a complaint, but that’s just the reality of this injury. However, there’s one specific thing…time management. Like I’ve said, I want to do everything! My honest desire is to be a motivational speaker; I love when kids come up to me afterward, and you can tell they’re so thankful because something I said spoke to them. I guess finding the time to pursue both my body and motivational speaking is huge for me. I want to be able to heal and do that, but I know God’s got me. I’ve tried acupuncture, infrared therapy, searched out a healer, I’ve done all these things in hopes of getting healed. Finally, I said, not too long ago, that I’m just going to surrender it all to God; I don’t think He wants me to give up.”
Gosh, working on time management, I’m sure a lot of us can relate to that; however, could you imagine having to throw in working on healing your body on top of all the other chaos in life? We should be thankful for the fact that we can physically hop in a car and run our errands, Elko! “You may not be able to change your situation, but you can change your perspective which leads to perseverance,” says Lizzy.
What a great quote and you can definitely tell that Lizzy means those words. Her joy for life was very transparent throughout our interview, as well as her joy for our city! Lizzy, you love Elko, don’t you? “I love Elko. I love all the people. People (in my opinion) are a lot kinder in smaller towns because we have that closeness in our relationships. People that don’t even know me have helped me out. I couldn’t imagine having this injury in a big city. Not that people in big cities don’t care about other people, but they may not have the same kinds of emotional ties to those around them. More people than I can name come up to me when I’m out around town and thank me for sharing my story. No, thank you! Thank you for telling me that my story has encouraged somebody! I just don’t think you’d find that sort of thing in a big town because they don’t see the same people all the time around town. When I was in San Diego they didn’t have the genuine connection with everybody; they were nice but you could tell they weren’t necessarily interested in being friends. It’s so cool that everyone here enjoys their relationships with each other and genuinely hopes to see you again!”
Anthony: Ok, this next question is usually comes at the end of the blog. What’s one thing you want the readers of this feature to take away, without a doubt, knowing about you?
Lizzy: Ok, I can only have one thing?
Anthony: You can have whatever you want!
Lizzy, “Ok, because I have a list! I’m thankful for Jared (Lizzy’s fiance) he’s always showing me off, and I think we need more people like him. I want people to know that I truly do love everybody. I want to be friends with everybody. I love Jesus! Also, a lot of people are always amazed that I’ve been able to remain so optimistic about this whole thing but really I know I’m just blessed. I’m positive probably because of all the people who are around me and support me. I still get to live my life because I have the best friends and community anybody could have, and God has my back!”
That’s what I took away really appreciating about Lizzy after our talk. She genuinely has happiness and joy in her life. It’s not forced. It’s not an act. She truly does love what she gets to do and other people. To me, this is a real gift. Moreover, on behalf of many people I’m sure, I’d like to say thank you for sharing your gift with our little town, Lizzy!
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See you around, Elko! Stay active!