PLATTSBURGH — Chelsea Scheefer was 17 years old when a snowboarding accident left her lying on her back in the snow, her legs numb, shouting into the sky for help.
“I just kept saying, ‘Please wake me up, God. Please wake me up,’” she told the audience at the “An Evening of Healing: Stories of Strength” event held at Strand Theatre.
She soon began to shout instead for the strength to get through the difficult times ahead, adjusting to life in a wheelchair after the Jan. 28, 1998, accident.
BUILT NEW IDENTITY
The “Evening of Healing” was organized by Behavioral Health Services North with major funding from the Foundation of CVPH and additional funding from Twinstate Technologies and Northern Insuring.
Finding the strength to carry on was a major theme of the stories shared at the event. Along with Scheefer, who was keynote speaker, nine other presenters talked of struggle and recovery.
Each was given a brief introduction by moderator Sally Meisenheimer that described their individual hardships.
This allowed the speakers to focus their talks on the strategies they used to overcome those traumas and reach stability.
After coming to terms with her injury, Scheefer began speaking at events to share her experiences and the lessons she had learned from them.
“I was crafting my new identity, overcoming something very tragic and using it to inspire others,” she said.
Like Scheefer, Joe Pellerin originally responded to trauma with frustration, wishing he could go back and prevent the New York State Electric and Gas industrial accident that killed his son, Tim, in 2006.
Through personal and professional help, Joe learned to turn that anger into motivation to give workplace-safety talks throughout New York, Maine and Massachusetts.
Jean Worland also turned to professional support for help.
After leaving an abusive husband, she sought help from STOP Domestic Violence and Behavioral Health Services North, accessing shelter at a safehouse and counseling services.