MADISON, Wis. - Nineteen months after a nearly fatal fall from a Wisconsin Dells ride, Teagan Marti was back in Wisconsin this weekend to help promote a multimillion dollar expansion at the American Family Children's Hospital.
Marti, a Florida native, was a surprise guest -- and not surprisingly -- stole the show. As her mom Julie Marti proudly said, "You can see the progress she's made."
"We didn't know if she'd ever walk again," Julie Marti said.
Teagan has come a long way since that day in August 2010 when the then-12-year-old fell 100 feet from the Terminal Velocity ride at the Wisconsin Dells park known as Extreme World. Teagan broke her spine and pelvis in the fall.
"It was the worst day of my life," said Julie Marti.
Late Saturday night, the family watched news coverage of Teagan's fall along with a packed house at Monona Terrace in Madison. Few even knew that the Martis were there, until they stood.
Then, it was the crowd';s turn, as they offered the family a moving standing ovation.
The family was there to give thanks to the hospital and its staff.
"I don't think I can say with certainty if that facility didn't exist, that Teagan would be alive today," said Julie Marti.
Teagan's survival is measured not in months, but in milestones.One of the most important is obvious: She's walking again, usually without assistance.
Teagan's survival, once a question mark, gives hope to everyone at the hospital.
"She doesn't remember a lot about it, but the staff all felt very emotional because they got to see that what they did truly made a difference in her life," said Donna Katen-Bahensky, CEO of the American Family Children's Hospital.
The family, wiping away tears throughout the night, gave thanks to not only the hospital but to the state, saying they were shocked at how Wisconsin took up Teagan's story as she struggled to live.
"It was overwhelming and you people are amazing," said Julie Marti. "Thank you for all your continued support. Thank you."
Investigators found that the ride operator at Extreme World released Teagan without lifting a safety net into place. The Martis reached a legal settlement with the park's owner.
The operator pleaded guilty to reckless injury but didn't face jail time.
Officials said that the gala on Saturday night raised more than $400,000 for the American Family Children's Hospital.
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