Taylor Cunningham was a beautiful, healthy baby, and her parents treated each of her developmental milestones like little victories.
"You feel like that's a miracle," Taylor's mother, Paige, said. "Sometimes, we're amazed with how babies know how to do things naturally."
Three months ago, Paige and her husband, Chad, got to experience one of those early miracles for the second time.
"When that time came and she took those first steps on her own, it was very, very satisfying and gratifying," Chad said.
Last year, Taylor fell off a four wheeler while visiting her grandparents' farm in Plains, TX. She hit the ground head-first and suffered a traumatic brain injury.
"She was truly at risk of dying with the contusion or bruise on her brain stem," PICU intensivist Kerrie Pinkney said. "The brain stem affects all normal functions of life - your heart rate, your blood pressure, your breathing. Once those [functions] are hurt, you don't really get those back."
The accident impacted the entire Cunningham family, as they had to make adjustments and band together to help Taylor recover.
"They kind of help me at home with my therapy to make it easier and stuff," Taylor said.
Taylor attends physical therapy three times a week.
"She goes to [Pediatric Therapy Inc] here in Lubbock, which is incredible," Paige said. "Since then, she's walking on her own. She was climbing the steps. She's doing all different kinds of exercises."
These past ten months have been an uphill climb for Taylor, and her parents said they see large fragments of her bright, feisty personality returning.
"She's always been that way," Chad said. "She's always been charismatic and giving, and she's got a personality like no other."
Taylor said she is happy with the effect all of her hard work has had on her parents.
"I'm happy that they get excited that I can do these things," Taylor said. "It just makes them happy, so it makes me happy, too."
The Cunninghams said the progress Taylor has made would not have been possible without the care they received at UMC.
"Incredible staff, incredible people that work there," Chad said. "Without UMC - without the staff and without the equipment that was available, I honestly don't believe that Taylor would be here."
Though much of the accident and early stages of therapy are a blur for Taylor, she remembers exactly where she was when she took those first steps again, as an eight-year-old.
She was in the living room, going toward her mom. The wave of accomplishment she felt once she made it into Paige's arms could be summed up in three words.
"It was exciting," Taylor said.
Taylor's strength and determination has given her family the hope and reassurance that they would get through this hurdle together - one, small careful step at a time.
'The whole Children's Miracle Network - we've watched it for years on TV," Paige said. "We've listened to it on the radio for the telethon. This year is different because my Taylor is a miracle, and she's part of the Children's Miracle Network. It's safe to say that Taylor is definitely my miracle."
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