OKLAHOMA CITY - The Oklahoma City Dodgers and INTEGRIS conclude the 2017 "Home Run for Life" series Saturday at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark by recognizing Lindsay Dennis, who sustained severe head and spinal cord injuries in a May 2016 car accident.
Dennis broke vertebrae at the top of her neck - an injury many people are unable to survive - and also suffered broken vertebrae in her middle back, fractured her ribs, endured swelling on her brain and experienced paralysis in her lower body.
She returned to teaching this month, about 15 months after her accident. Dennis currently relies on a wheelchair for mobility, but took her first steps after the accident this spring and continues her recovery thanks to the care she receives at Jim Thorpe Rehabilitation at INTEGRIS Southwest Medical Center.
"Home Run For Life" recognizes individuals in the Oklahoma City community who have overcome a significant medical event with the help of their families, physicians and health care professionals. To symbolize the end of their battle against adversity, honorees take a home run "lap" around the bases during an in-game ceremony.
"We are proud to continue the Home Run For Life Series this season and honor some remarkable individuals in our community who have battled exceptional challenges with their health," OKC Dodgers President/General Manager Michael Byrnes said. "Their resolve and courage offer great inspiration for us all and we are pleased to join with INTEGRIS to recognize their triumphs."
Lindsay Dennis and her family were traveling from Moore to Shawnee in celebration after the last day of the school year in May 2016.
Dennis had recently accepted a teaching position in Shawnee and wanted to purchase a T-shirt from her new school and show her family where she would be working the following school year.
But her family of four never made it to Shawnee that day. The Dennis family minivan was stopped in traffic on the interstate when they were rear-ended by another vehicle traveling approximately 70 miles per hour.
The accident sent Dennis, her husband Daniel and their two young sons Parker and Noah to the hospital. Dennis remained in the hospital from May 20 until early June. The first time she regained consciousness after the accident was June 3. She awoke in a brace that enveloped her body in rigid plastic from her head to her waist and she learned her lower body was paralyzed.
She had to relearn how to do everything from sitting up to getting dressed. She also had to learn how to swallow, eat and drink once again.
When Dennis arrived at Jim Thorpe Rehabilitation at INTEGRIS Southwest Medical Center in June 2016, she was wearing the immobilizing brace over the top half of her body, had a tube in her stomach, faint voice and was completely dependent on others for her care.
"Being at Jim Thorpe they had so many resources and so many people that all you had to do was ask," Dennis said. "I think they've seen just about everything. They really made it seem not so overwhelming because you could get lost in all of the feelings that you have to go through to get through something like this. They make it manageable."
She stayed at INTEGRIS Jim Thorpe Rehabilitation as an inpatient through July 2016 and has since returned on a regular basis as an outpatient. The first time she took a step after her accident was in March 2017.
"I try not to let it get to me so much, but it was the first time ever at the end of therapy that I broke down in tears - and they were happy tears," she said. "When all of this happened, you think it's not going to be a possibility, and then it was a good possibility."
Her focus recently has been on resuming her career and working full time as a high school English and journalism teacher - something she has been looking forward to for more than a year. She returned to the classroom earlier this month.
"It has been an interesting journey to say the least," Dennis said. "You learn to appreciate a lot of small things that you really take for granted in the long run. You can focus all on the negative and all on the bad, but we've had a lot of blessings and a lot of amazing people and opportunities like this, that it makes you see the good in people."
To read Dennis' full story, visit okcdodgers.com.
The Dodgers open their final homestand of the 2017 regular season tonight at 7:05 p.m. against the Omaha Storm Chasers at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark on a $2 Thursday featuring $2 soda, water and beer from a line of Pepsi and Budweiser products. The series against Omaha continues at 7:05 p.m. Friday with Hometown Heroes Military Celebration Night presented by RSM and Folds of Honor. Fireworks presented by Francis Tuttle are scheduled to follow the game.
Watch Lindsay Dennis complete her "Home Run for Life" following the third inning of Saturday's 7:05 p.m. game against Omaha. Gates open at 6 p.m. and the first 1,000 fans will receive a Cody Bellinger T-shirt. The OKC Disc Dogs will also perform and fans will have the opportunity to bid on game-used, game-worn autographed OKC Dodgers memorabilia during the Clubhouse Collectibles silent auction presented by The Oklahoman. Sunday's 6:05 p.m. game against Omaha falls on a Chaparral Energy Family Sunday.
The homestand then continues with a four-game series against the New Orleans Baby Cakes beginning at 7:05 p.m. Monday. The regular season concludes at 7:05 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 31 against New Orleans on a $2 Thursday and special Throwback Thursday. Oklahoma City will take the field in Oklahoma City 89ers gear and the players' and coaches' jerseys will be auctioned off to benefit the OKC Dodgers Baseball Foundation.
A very limited number of tickets remain for Friday and Saturday nights, but tickets for all of the other remaining home games of the regular season are available through the OKC Dodgers ticket office located on South Mickey Mantle Drive, by phone at (405) 218-1000, or by visiting okcdodgers.com.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.