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‘A regular 9-year-old girl’ gives back to facility that helped her

(Dec. 13, 2013) A fourth grader at Berlin Intermediate School is giving back this holiday season with some help from her father.

Emily Sackadorf is “just a regular 9-year-old girl” who enjoys gymnastics and surfing with her brother, said dad Larry Sackadorf.

Nine-year-old Emily Sackadorf, with father Larry Sackadorf, presents a check for $2,150 to Jody Luttrell of the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore after a Jeep Week fundraiser in November. Emily spent almost a month at the institute and made a full recovery after a horseback riding accident five years ago left her unable to walk or talk. (Photo courtesy of Larry Sackadorf)

But five years ago, he wasn’t sure she’d be able to walk or talk again after a spill from a horse left Emily with bleeding in her brain, a fractured skull and jaw, two broken arms, bruised ribs and a contused lung.

To thank the medical center that helped Emily make a full recovery, Sackadorf, Jeep Week organizer, raised money during the annual event for the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore.

“My wife and I were trying to pick a charity for this year’s event,” he said. “We’ve done things for so many other people, and here we are, having something happen in our family.”

Every year on the Thursday of Jeep Week, Seacrets holds a fundraiser for a different charity. Funds raised in 2013 totaled $2,150, which Emily presented to Jody Luttrell, Director of Care Management at Kennedy Krieger, in late November in front of the Commander Hotel, Jeep Week host.

The money will go toward the institute’s center that helps children coming out of rehabilitation readjust to the post-clinical world.

“That was really important when we were trying to get Emily back on her feet and get her back home,” Sackadorf said. “That was one of the times that we really saw her blossom.”

At that center, children take field trips outside of the institute, going bowling or to the Build-a-Bear Workshop, for example.

“That was something that was very special to us — to be able not only to watch Emily go through the process and the treatment, but to see her preparing to go back to school and see people,” Sackadorf said. “It just seemed like a special place.”

Emily spent nearly a month in recovery, flying to the Kennedy Krieger Institute from another hospital just few days after her Aug. 16 accident at her grandparents’ house in Olney.

Emily was wearing a helmet when the family’s horse, Noah, spooked, causing her to hit the back of her head on a fence rail, Sackadorf said.

Her grandparents thought it would be the last time they saw her, he said.

“I’ve been a paramedic now for almost 30 years, and when I walked in my knees buckled. I didn’t even believe it was her,” he said. Doctors “told me that night that she may never talk, may never walk, may never come out of the coma she was in.”

At the Krieger Institute, however, Emily made a full recovery.

“It’s a remarkable, remarkable place,” Sackadorf said. “We’re so blessed to have that in our backyard.”

The family still owns Noah, and Emily long ago made her peace with the animal, he said. “Now every time we go to Mimi and Pop-pops, she has to go over and brush the horses and feed them carrots.”

Of the fundraiser she inspired, Emily “was really tickled,” Sackadorf said. “It was just our way of giving a little bit back and giving Emily a little something to remember.”

Learn more about the Kennedy Krieger Institute at www.kennedykrieger.org.

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