Winston-Salem, NC -- When you see the photos of her savage car crash, it's hard to believe Melanie Pell survived. It's almost impossible to tell the hunk of metal she and a friend escaped from used to be a Volkswagen Beetle.
Pell has been a cheerleader since she was seven years old. She ran track at North Davidson High School, too. But since that crash on June 29th, she's been in a wheelchair. Mel can't remember the winding country road she was driving on -- or why she ran off the pavement and into a tree. Mel's simply happy she survived and that her friend escaped with only an elbow injury. But Melanie's legs were shattered.
The 17-year-old's competitive spirit helped her fight through all the pain of the past few months. She's been through numerous surgeries and many hours of physical therapy -- mostly while seated or in a water tank
But on Tuesday, she got the chance to walk again.
Her family was gracious enough to let WFMY News 2 join her at school as she headed to a crucial doctor's appointment. They let us join them as her doctor helped her do something she hasn't been able to do for more than three months -- stand up.
"I definitely have had my breakdown moments [since the crash] when I just don't know what to do," Melanie said. "It seems like there's no end to this. But I see the light now."
The light is much easier to see now that she has stood up. She even took a few steps for the first time at a physical therapy appointment. She'll have to stay in her wheelchair for a few more days, but the effort to get her walking again will get more aggressive over the next couple weeks.
Mel is a senior at North Davidson now, and she still cheers at football games from her wheelchair. She also still hopes to run track again before the school year is out.
WFMY News 2