Courtney Baker’s journey of recovery, determination and faith

By Brittany Butler
Senior Features Writer

On Dec. 13, the day of her last final exam, Courtney Baker decided to drive home for Christmas break with her friend Sarah Sterling following behind. Baker had studied until 3 a.m. the night before, and was struggling to keep her eyes open.

She fell asleep once, and then quickly woke herself up.  Resting her head against the seat, she fell asleep a second time, and did not wake up until she felt the car on grass.  Baker tried to find the brake, but she didn’t reach it in time.

Minutes later she recovered conciousness; she was covered in gasoline and was missing the lower portion of her left leg.

“I remember asking, ‘Am I going to die?’” Baker said.  She then asked Sterling, who had immediately pulled over and ran to the car, if they could “just pray that [she] would go to heaven.”

Others who had pulled over to help called an ambulance. Baker struggled to remain calm while she waited for its arrival.  One woman told Baker that she was a minister’s wife, and prayed with Baker.  “She didn’t just pray for the moment,” said Baker.  “She prayed for the future and that God would use my story for others.”

Before her leg was severed, Baker was on the varsity volleyball team at Asbury. She found the “Blade,” a prosthetic leg designed for runners. Most people would consider performing even the daily tasks of life with a prosthetic leg an accomplishment, but Baker was determined get back on the court again.

“My main goal in the hospital was to be playing volleyball again, so I have accomplished that.  But I’m not satisfied with where I’m at,” she said.  She hopes to be playing varsity again by her senior year.

Though Baker says she did not have completely set goals for her future before the accident, she was an exercise science major and wanted to be a physical therapist.  While she was in the hospital, however, she noticed the compassionate staff.  “I was touched by all of the nurses,” she said.  “Being around all the caring people in the hospital made me want to change my major.”  Baker is now a pre-nursing major, planning to go on to finish her last two years at the University of Kentucky.

Though the accident has presented Baker with various trials and complications, she expressed that her faith in God is stronger for it.      

“I just thought, ‘[Whether or not I go to heaven] shouldn’t be a question I have to ask myself.”  Having grown up in a Christian home, Baker believed in God, but feels she did not fully know him. “I don’t think God did it on purpose,” she said, “but I think that the wreck was definitely an eye-opener.  It makes me live every day like it’s my last.”

All of these changes in Baker’s life were aided by her decision to be positive about the accident. “I would normally be more negative, but choosing to be positive from the very beginning has really helped me,” she said. Baker believes that if she had chosen to be negative after the accident, she wouldn’t be where she is today.  Baker’s positivity continues to influence others.  “I think it will help me in the future, too.”

Baker’s friends were certainly inspired by her faith and diligence. Sarah Sterling, Jess Fraser and Danielle Rayman wanted to do something for Baker. “The girls and I wanted to do a 5K for Courtney to help her with any medical costs she may have or will have,” said Sterling.

They planned the “Walking in Faith 5K” event for this month, but it has evolved into something larger—a non-profit organization. “The Walking in Faith organization will stick around forever and hopefully we can touch the lives of many,” said Sterling. “Our plan is to put on 5ks or events in the future for people in need.”

Baker’s strength of will and character continues to inspire others as this student-founded organization moves forward.

The “Walking in Faith 5K” will take place on Sat., Oct. 26 at 9 a.m. in Wilmore. The race is free, pre-registration is from 7:30-8:30 a.m. the day of, and t-shirts will be sold for 5 dollars. If running isn’t quite your forte you are welcome to walk or jog.