06/14/09 — Spring Creek graduate looks ahead with courage, determination

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Spring Creek graduate looks ahead with courage, determination

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on June 14, 2009 2:00 AM

While graduates across the county anticipated their walk across the stage to receive diplomas this weekend, Lisa Mozingo was just happy to be there.

The Spring Creek High School senior has been a typical teen -- active in school and church, working part-time at Waylin Animal Clinic and Seven Springs Restaurant -- until a bend in the road changed everything.

It was three days after the school's prom -- May 19, to be exact -- when Lisa was returning home from a friend's house. On Kinsey Ginn Road, her Jeep fishtailed. She overcorrected, flipping the vehicle three times. She was ejected through the driver's side window.

A friend happened by the accident scene and summoned help. Lisa was airlifted to Pitt Memorial Hospital, where the prognosis was grim.

She already knew her back was broken, said Christy Shivar, one of Lisa's teachers. Doctors added to the list -- broken ribs, bruised lungs, a crushed vertebra.

Surgery was done the next day, but she remains paralyzed from the chest down, her teacher said.

The news has rippled through the community, said Mrs. Shivar, president of the ladies auxiliary at Pricetown Fire Department, where Lisa had recently been named fire princess, and attends the same church, Zion United Methodist.

"She and her twin brother John are seniors at Spring Creek," Mrs. Shivar said. "He's an athlete -- baseball and football -- and both of them are in FFA."

The bond of twins is especially being felt since the accident, as John, 18, prepared to receive his diploma, while maintaining hope that his sister would also be there.

Their mother, Pam Mozingo, said Lisa was given medical leave to attend graduation.

Nearly two weeks ago, Lisa was moved to rehab at Pitt Memorial, where therapy treatments began. It's exhausting most days, but so far, so good, her mother said

And while that part of the journey has just started, another journey begun long ago was yet to be completed.

"After working for 13 years, her immediate goal is to go to her high school graduation," Mrs. Mozingo said.

Most nights Pam, a retired nurse, and husband Phil have stayed at nearby Ronald McDonald House in Greenville, but he usually travels back and forth to keep things going at home, where they have another child, Tyler, 16, a sophomore at Spring Creek.

They may be running on fumes, but their faith sustains them, she says.

"We all have tremendous faith but she has been just amazing," Mrs. Mozingo says of her daughter. "She has said up until today when she moved to rehab -- the reality kind of set in -- we both has us a little crying spell. But up until then, she had not cried, not asked 'why?' She said, 'God doesn't make mistakes.' She knows He's in charge, He's not finished with her because of the severity of the accident.

"We have already had several miracles -- she's alive, she has no brain damage. She says she's going to walk again. We believe that God can restore that spinal cord."

In fact, it has been Lisa who has bolstered everyone else's spirits.

That's not surprising, considering the person she is.

"She's a very outgoing, independent girl, young lady, but her family also means a lot to her," Mrs. Mozingo said. "And it's special -- it's always been special to have a twin, to be a twin, but she loves her younger brother, too."

Her only daughter has been a blessing, she says, especially of late.

"It's been amazing, especially for someone her age, to be living her faith and having as strong of a faith as she has," she said. "She has been extremely active in church -- had spent her own money and remodeled her Sunday school class at church. She was busy, busy, busy, but good busy. She was having a good time with her friends and she really loved the Lord."

Now, as Lisa remains hospitalized, while her friends engage in summer activities, she still doesn't want them worrying about her, Mrs. Mozingo says.

It is those friends, a steady stream of visitors since she was hospitalized, who have raised up the family in recent weeks.

"She has had so many people over here, we have just been run out," she said. "We have overcrowded the waiting room and hallways. Her spirits are already lifted. It lifts them even more. We just want her friends to keep coming because this is going to be a long, drawn-out process."

Grateful for all the support that has come their way, the family has but one wish.

"I just want everyone to pray for a healing miracle for her," Mrs. Mozingo said. "When anybody asks her what she wants, that's what she wants and that's what we believe will happen."

John and Lisa are both registered to attend Mount Olive College and have their class schedules for the fall, their mother said. John plans to major in agri-business, Lisa in agricultural education.

"She's still planning on going," Mrs. Mozingo said.

Many others in the surrounding community are doing their part to make sure that happens, organizing fundraisers and lending support to the family.

Change jars have been put up in several local businesses, Mrs. Shivar said, and their church has been selling arm bracelets and T-shirts bearing the message, "Pray for Lisa." A chicken and barbecue fundraiser is being planned for Aug. 8.

The church has also established ways for the public to contribute to the cause. Through "Operation Get Well Card," cards and notes of encouragement can be sent to Pitt County Memorial Hospital, 2100 Stantonsburg Road, Attn: Lisa Mozingo, Greenville, N.C. 27835.

Funds are being raised to help make the Mozingo's home wheelchair accessible. Tax-deductible donations can be mailed to: The Lisa Mozingo Fund, c/o Zion United Methodist Church, 1727 Zion Church Road, Mount Olive, N.C. 28365.