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Thursday, Mar 05, 2015

Benefit to help injured girl get back in the saddle

Hernando Today correspondent

Published:   |   Updated: August 21, 2014 at 07:03 PM

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Every parent dreads receiving the news that their child has been involved in a serious accident. Therese Thomas, who is typically working on a critical patient or comforting the family members in the ICU ward at Oak Hill Hospital, has had to deliver that news more than once.

But in late July, Thomas was on the receiving end. Her friend and colleague, Christina Stodart, an ICU-RN, described the scene, told to her by Thomas.

“She got the call when she was getting ready for work,” Stodart said. “And she asked the caller three questions:

‘Is she alive?’


‘Is she on life support?’


‘Is she coherent?’


Kelly, 19, had suffered a serious spinal cord injury when her truck rolled during a crash on July 19.

“That 1 second phone call changed their lives forever,” Stodart said.

Now recovering at Tampa General’s rehab facility, Kelly’s progress is slow but steady. She is strong, Stodart said, despite her tiny frame.

Kelly competes in barrel racing with her horse and is a member of the Barrel Racing Association. She also works on her family’s farm while pursuing her college degree in physical therapy. She was registered to start classes at University of Central Florida prior to the accident.

“She’s a tough one,” Stodart said. “But she’s going to need a lot of help getting back in the saddle. That’s what we want for her, to get back in the saddle.”

The medical community in the Hernando has bonded together to help make that happen. Several physicians bonded together to help facilitate funding for Kelly and her family as she recovers.

A trust account was opened at Sun Trust Bank in Kelly’s name where donations toward her care can be made.

“Any Sun Trust Bank in the county can receive donations,” said Stodart. The donor only needs to mention Kelly Thomas.

In addition, a fundraising benefit is planned for 7 p.m. today at Silverthorn Country Club, featuring dinner, live entertainment, door prizes, gift basket giveaways, and several raffle items, including Botox treatments, televisions, and vacation gift certificates.

There will also be a

Many in the community are coming together to help Therese and Sam Thomas and their daughter, who is well loved and supported.

“Therese has saved so many lives in our community,” Stodart said. “She has seen many at their worst and has made it better. She has held hands of the dying, young and old.

“Therese has been part of this community for over 25 years. So when the health care community was informed of her daughter’s injury, we all wanted to help.”

Barrel racing is Kelly’s passion, Stodart said. The hope is to raise enough money to help purchase a specialty saddle so Kelly can get back on her horse.

“We all know that horses are great therapy, both physically and emotionally,” Stodart.

Tickets for the benefit are available at Oak Hill Hospital or by calling Christina Stodart at (352) 597-5161.

Running Strong For Kelly Thomas is a barrel racing fundraiser on Sept. 7 at Smokehouse Creek Arena in Dade City. For information call, Tommy Thomas at (352) 232-4797.

Email Hernando Today Correspondent Kim Dame at

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