By Sonny Bursey
Clare, Michigan — Clare native Kristy First was on life’s fast track. Moving to, West Palm Beach, Florida for college at Northwood University to study business. Then went on and had an attractive job as a membership director at a private country club, was active, and healthy.
But then, the wheel of change suddenly turned. It happened during the summer of 2000 on a Florida highway.
“I was on my way home from a dinner with friends I hadn’t seen in a while. It was raining super hard and a pickup truck just appeared out of nowhere. It happened so fast and I went off the road. I was ejected from my car and it rolled over on top of me.”
The brutal crash was catastrophic. Be that as it may, Kristy somehow survived, but had severe spinal cord injuries — leaving her unable to walk. The former high school skier lay in a hospital bed for four months — required multiple surgeries, had a bone fusion, two titanium rods permanently placed in her back, and wore a body brace for 14 months.
“It was so difficult. The first two years were extremely hard to wrap my head around the fact that this was now my life and reality,” she said.
Kristy’s doctor gave her little hope, telling her: he didn’t know why she was working so hard (relentlessly for 14 months in rehab) because there was no progress being made. The physician said that she needed to find something meaningful in her life and pursue it.
It was during that timespan the wheel of change again veered.
“A friend gave me a book called, ‘The Miracle Man’ (The Life Story Of Joao De Deus, by Robert Pellegrino-Estrich,” she said.
“The Miracle Man,” describes people from around the world diagnosed as terminal or incurable by modern medicine that travel thousands of miles to Abadiania. A small town in the mountains of central Brazil. They come to see miracle healer, Joao de Deus. Joao is a simple man of humble beginnings who devotes three days of every week to healing people.
Kristy, who was single at the time, decided this was the type of care and environment she needed. And made the trek.
“I have friends who were diagnosed with stage 4 cancer, AIDS, inoperable brain tumors, and were blind ... all kinds of things that I witnessed and they were healed,” Kristy contends. “I myself was on a quest of healing and trying to figure it all out. What I personally found was we are all individuals. Two people could have the exact same diagnosis and have two completely different outcomes. My faith is very important to me.”
She committed five years spending as much time as she could in Brazil, taking breaks and doing therapy in the states in between, crediting that experience as a life changer ... in a positive way.
“I was blessed to meet amazing people from all over the world, including some of the best doctors around the world, had everything I needed, while living life in a very simple way and focusing on my healing.”
Kristy returned to the U.S (Florida) in 2006, single and still in a wheelchair, but with renewed spirit. She began a fulfilling relationship with whom is now her life partner, Steve ... and became a mother at the same time as Steve was a single father with two girls.
“Having a family is the most rewarding role I’ve played to date,” she said.
And that’s not the end to the good news.
Kristy has put her business knowledge to excellent use once again. She participated in Walmart’s, “Get On The Shelf” contest, entering her patent pending product invention of “WrapBags” into the national challenge. “WrapBags” is a decorative bag that a gift item or gift box slips right into. They’re offered in multiple sizes with different patterns and come with self- sealing stickers. There is also a clear pocket on the outside of each bag that holds a greeting card. Kristy always wanted to take an idea, patent it and go thru all the stages of growing a business.
“Let’s just say I wrap a lot of presents all year long,” Kristy said. “Who hasn’t thought one time or another, how great it would be if there was something easier and just plain fast? I did go thru a lot of brainstorming in the process. I knew I wanted a way to fit the odd shaped presents, but I also wanted it to fit a standard size box where you could just slide it in,” the entrepreneur explained.
She quickly rose to the very top of the entrant pool, making it to the top 8% in the contest. Making many connections thru the contest she is soon to be selling her Wrapbag’s with an on line company and has been working on her second shipment arriving in May, 2014. She was invited by Northwood University to participate in their Entrepreneurship week and is currently working with students in a Public Relations class as a client.
Kristy says, she has been through a lot of life’s challenges, but starting her own company with her own product has been a life’s dream. Kristy loves using the Wrapbags herself and is excited to share them with others..
Clip provided by CBS12