ODESSA, Texas — The Permian Basin Rehab Center does important work to help West Texans live a full, independent life.
One of those people is young Sophie Madrid. She might be the most determined girl you'll probably ever meet.
Sophie has been practicing getting herself into and out of the back of a car. It might not seem like much to us, but for Sophie and her mother it’s a big deal.
"When we first started working on that it was really hard,” said Paula Diffy, a physical therapist with PBRC.
Now Sophie is able to do it all on her own.
"I'm barely a supervising role anymore. She's telling me what to do," Diffy said.
Sophie is the MVP in her own right-this sassy seven year old loves a victory. Big or small, Sophie is playing to win.
But here's the thing about the game of life… there is always loss. It’s something Sophie learned just over a year ago.
Sophie and her mom were headed home from a trip and were just outside of Eden.
"There was a man driving on the wrong side of the road,” said Clarissa Madrid-Montoya, Sophie’s mother.
There was no chance to get out of the way.
“He hit us… head on,” Clarissa said.
Both Sophie and her mother were hurt. Clarissa suffered a broken ankle, and Sophie a devastating spinal cord injury. She spent two and a half months in the hospital.
The injury paralyzed her from the waist down.
"It's not fair. She's only seven years old and she's in a wheelchair. It's not fair,” Clarissa said.
Those first months were really hard for Sophie and Clarissa. But as any athlete knows, while you may be down you're never out.
"She gets up and she fights every single day. She does not quit. It's crazy seeing that coming from a child," Clarissa said.
Last April Sophie gained the best teammates in the game: the staff of the Permian Basin Rehab Center.
Sophie had to relearn how to do almost everything. When she first started coming to the rehab center, she was in a full back and neck brace.
Getting comfortable in her new reality was the first challenge to overcome.
"Letting her realize that yes, you can do this. You're ok. We're going to be right here to help you and make her aware of how much she can do herself,” Diffy said.
"I didn't want her to be stuck in that mentality that, ok I'm limited so I can't do this. Now it's like, no, I'm going to do this and I'm going to figure out how to do it,” Clarissa said.
What may seem like a small task to some is a huge victory for Sophie and her team.
"She will do things unexpectedly that we've been working on for months. And all of the sudden she's got it. And it's just like YES. YES!” Diffy said.
And she's not done yet.
Now Sophie is back to one of her first loves-getting outside and swinging a bat.
"I don't ever want her to think that just because she's in a wheelchair, she can't do everything she wants to do. I put that in her head. Don't think that just because you're in a chair, you're stuck. You are not stuck. I tell her all the time, you can do anything," Clarissa said.
Sophie is proof that no matter your circumstance, you are never stuck.
"It's not the end. It's only the beginning. We are going to help you get as far as you possibly can to embrace your full life,” Diffy said.
The determination of a mighty young girl who will live a full life no matter the challenge. For Sophie Madrid: it's game on.