- Associated Press - Sunday, May 3, 2015

FLORA, Ind. (AP) - Abbie Burns doesn’t remember the details of her Jan. 16, 2014, automobile accident.

Raising a sectional championship trophy 13 months later, though, Burns will never forget.

Every tireless moment of rehab since then was worth it to return for basketball season last winter.

Burns overcame a brain injury, damaged vocal cords, 12 broken bones, and muscle damage in her legs and knees to put on a Carroll Cougars uniform her senior season as one of the team captains.

“After the accident, I went to Peyton Manning (Children’s) Hospital and saw her there,” Carroll girls basketball coach Chad Arnold told the Journal & Courier (https://on.jconline.com/1HblakK ). “I couldn’t believe she made it through it (the accident), yet she made it through it and played basketball.”

Burns received the Comeback Award in Indianapolis recently at the 10th annual Brady Sports Achievement Awards banquet. The award is given annually to one high school male and female athlete in the state. Bremen High School’s Dylan Shumaker, a multi-sport athlete who returned after spinal cancer, is the male recipient.

Burns’ basketball career began in fifth grade. With this being her final season, she was not going to let the injuries from her accident take away her last opportunity to play.

She put off surgery to compete this season, wearing a special brace on her right knee to compensate. Her reactions weren’t as quick, and she had to adapt to a drop foot, a setback of muscle damage.

Her playing time was sparse, but her comeback was inspirational to the team, Arnold said.

The Cougars were scheduled to play the night of Burns’ accident. Rick Burns had planned to take his daughter out for pizza before the game.

But weather postponed the game and students were released from school early because of an oncoming winter storm. On her way home from school, Abbie Burns’ car hit a patch of black ice and slid sideways into the other lane, where her vehicle collided with another automobile.

Her father was right behind her and watched as the other vehicle crashed into the driver’s side door of his daughter’s car.

“I was going to be the first to the car, (but) one of her teachers made it to the car first,” Rick Burns said.

By then, Abbie Burns’ recollection already was fogged.

“I don’t know what really happened … I was unconscious at first. I didn’t know anything else (after that),” she said.

Others did.

“The principal and I were on the scene of the accident,” Carroll athletic director Camden Parkhurst said. “When you were there, you wonder if she was ever going to live a normal life again, let alone play high school sports.

“It says a lot of her work and determination.”

Burns spent 10 days on a ventilator and three weeks in the hospital. She missed nine weeks of school.

Her therapy? Working in the barn at her Flora home.

Burns loves animals. This fall, she plans to study veterinary medicine or animal science at college.

“When she was in the hospital, we never thought she would play again,” said Abbie’s mother, Beth Burns. “Within just months, she was able to show her sheep (for 4-H).”

In August, she got back behind the wheel of a vehicle.

“It was scary for my parents for me to drive,” Burns recalled. “I didn’t find anything wrong with it since I didn’t remember whole entire wreck.”

And then she was able to pick up a basketball, after finally being cleared to compete by doctors one week before the start of the season.

Burns was going to make sure to enjoy her final season, just months removed from using a wheelchair or walker. She practiced as hard as she could. Some games she played. Others she didn’t.

She wouldn’t have traded it for anything.

“She is going to show same emotion in the game as on the bench. She is about the team,” Arnold said. “Those are the kind of kids you want to surround yourself with.”

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