Paralyzed but upbeat, stabbing victim ready to come home

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by JIM DOUGLAS

Bio | Email | Follow: @wfaajdouglas

WFAA-TV

Posted on April 20, 2010 at 6:49 PM

DALLAS — Brandi Todd grimaces as she runs her hands down the legs of her wheelchair, reaching for the floor. She loves to run, ride horses and dance.

But her own legs no longer work.

A stranger stabbed her in the back at a Stephenville park on March 14, leaving her paralyzed from the waist down.

Now she grits her teeth and lowers her body to a mat at the Baylor Institute for Rehabilitation in Dallas. And then she does something you wouldn't expect.

She laughs.

This is her last day in rehab before going home. One more day to make her therapists smile as she strikes a model's pose on the mat.

It was not quite a month ago that we saw her in a Fort Worth hospital room, propped up with a plastic brace. Now she's eager to show how far she's come.

"Did you hear about my truck transfer?" she asks excitedly. "I can totally pull myself into the truck."

Todd doesn't dwell on the man who attacked her, and she is not waiting for medical science to fix her legs.

"You know, sit here waiting," she says. "My life goes by me, waiting for me to walk."

Brandi Todd is moving on, wheeling herself into an elevator, giving directions to a doctor waiting inside: "Two please, my good man."

While she finishes rehab, neighbors and church groups rush to finish remaking her home in the tiny town of Morgan Mill in Erath County.

They've built a ramp, widened doors, raised floors and added an automatic lift.

They are even building a new room.

Volunteers say Todd's faith and courage inspire them.

She says she's inspired by the hundreds of people who have written to say they believe in her.

Since Todd's story went national on ABC World News with Diane Sawyer, she's getting cards from all over. We've heard of churches in Missouri using her story as a Sunday school lesson.

She knows there's still a lot of pain and disappointment ahead, but not enough to keep her down. Her eight-year0old daughter told her as much on recent visit to the hospital.

"She said we're just going to have such a good future," Todd said.

It's the same thing she told her daughter, and her four-year-old son, when she had to explain that she could no longer walk.

Brandi Todd expects to leave rehab on Wednesday afternoon.

The man accused of stabbing her, Michael Howard, remains jailed in Erath County. Authorities say he has a history of mental illness.

E-mail jdouglas@wfaa.com

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