By Henry Piarrot
We have all been taught that real friendship is not about being reliable when it is convenient, it is all about coming thru when it is not. That being said, young Courtney Snyders, an incoming senior at Pigeon Forge High School has actually lived this timeless lesson.
Two mornings after Christmas 2011, 16 year old Aimee Kiefer was on her way to work when she lost control of her 1995 Land Rover and smashed into the stoutest tree in Sevier County.
Aimee was badly broken and near death when her parents, George and Elaine received word of the accident. Still, with all that was running thru her mind at that moment, Elaine called for Aimee’s best friend, Courtney Snyders.
Aimee and Courtney have been friends since they were both in second grade at Wearwood School in Wears Valley. Although they had known for years that one would do anything for the other, Courtney was about to demonstrate exactly what “anything” meant.
Unaware it was taking over two hours to cut Aimee out of her crushed vehicle, her parents, along with Courtney and her Mother arrived at the University of Tennessee Medical Center before Aimee. Elaine recalled, “Based on what we were being told, there was much doubt at that moment she was going to live.”
When Elaine and George were allowed to see their still unconscious daughter before her nearly five hour surgery, Courtney was with them. She kissed her friend’s forehead and whispered, “I love you and will be waiting right here for you.”
In addition to both of Aimee’s legs being crushed, she cracked her pelvis, broke an arm and collapsed a lung. Once her life was finally saved, the teen awoke to find her right leg had been removed at the knee and the remainder of it, as well as her entire left leg was reinforced with titanium rods. She was alive, but a painful recovery lay ahead.
True to her word, Courtney would not allow Aimee to go thru this nightmare alone. From the moment she returned from surgery, Courtney was at her side, and she never left. She spent day after long day at the hospital holding her friend’s hand thru the painful screams, bathing her and helping her in and out of bed. Most important, she encouraged her all day every day.
Aimee’s left leg was badly damaged as well and tubes were inserted to allow the infection to drain into a bucket. Anytime Aimee left her bed to go anywhere, Courtney was there to carry her bucket of blood.
Elaine tried to get Courtney to go home to rest, but she never would. Her total focus was only on making sure her beloved friend would get thru this and be stronger than she was before. She would leave only to shower and change clothes. Then she would sleep in the chair next to Aimee’s bed.
Expected to be in the hospital for months, Aimee was released to her parents’ home after only 17 days. Elaine credits Courtney’s unconditional love and total devotion for helping her daughter achieve such a remarkable recovery.
However, just because Aimee was going home, did not mean there was not going to be pain and tears to get her life back. So, Courtney moved in with Aimee and her parents, continuing to care for her before and after school, while sleeping beside her bed at night.
Courtney was there for every milestone large and small. When Aimee stood on her crutches for the first time, or when she took her first incredible steps with her new prosthetic leg, Courtney was there to inspire, encourage and even help her up when she fell.
Nearly seven months have passed since that dreadful December day. Thankfully, Aimee is healed and thriving while preparing to begin her senior year of high school. Many times she has been heralded as possibly the strongest and bravest young woman in Sevier County. That may actually be true.
Even so, the rest of the story features the timeless axiom that nobody accomplishes any great achievement alone. Courtney Snyders is not only at the center of Aimee’s extraordinary tale, she is the heart of an amazing story all her own that will forever live as the standard in Sevier County history of the best friend a friend in need could ever have.
“If you live to be 100, I hope I live to be 100 minus 1 day, so I never have to live without you.”- Alan Alexander Milne
Henry Piarrot is a hotel manager and Sevier County resident on assignment in Hattiesburg, MS. Please send all story recommendations to firstname.lastname@example.org