PHOTO GALLERY: Kelsi Poe's journey from hospital bed back to the classroom

Sunday, December 4, 2011 | 12:01 a.m. CST; updated 4:37 p.m. CST, Sunday, December 4, 2011
Kelsi Poe lies in surgical ICU at University Hospital on Sept. 6, 2010, two days after the accident.

COLUMBIA — Kelsi Poe's life changed on Sept. 4, 2010, after she fell from the stairs in Quinton's Bar and Deli. Family and friends visited her during her recovery in the hospital. Her family took it upon themselves to document Poe's progress after the accident.

Today, those photos exist as a reminder of what she's gone through and how much she has improved during her yearlong journey from hospital bed back to a college classroom.

Kelsi Poe's best friend Stephanie Piontek [left], her sister Ashley Drewel and brother Jason Poe surround Poe's bed on Sept. 12, 2010. Poe had still not opened her eyes since the accident.
Kelsi Poe rests after surgery at University Hospital on Oct. 7, 2010. A 15-foot fall from a staircase at Quinton's Bar and Deli on Sept. 4, 2010, left Poe with three fractured cervical vertebrae, a traumatic brain injury, respiratory failure, a lacerated spleen, a collapsed lung and a lacerated toe. Poe was 19 years old, and her blood alcohol concentration was .32, which is four times Missouri's legal driving limit. "Alcohol is the reason it happened," Poe said. "That was the only reason it happened."
A scar trails down the center of Kelsi Poe's head on Oct. 24, 2010. Doctors removed a section of Poe's skull because of dramatic swelling days after the accident, and they replaced the skull fragment on Oct. 7, 2010.
Alexis Leuckel naps beside Kelsi Poe at Rusk Rehabilitation Center on Nov. 14, 2010. Leuckel often drove up from Jefferson City to Columbia to sit with Kelsi.
Kelsi Poe poses with the 2010-2011 Columbia College softball team the day after being released from Rusk Rehabilitation center and her 20th birthday.
Kelsi Poe and her softball coach Wendy Spratt pose with the WIN for Columbia Inspiration Award, which Kelsi received on Feb. 15, 2011.
Kelsi Poe climbs the steps on Aug. 22, 2011 at Columbia College for her first day of school since the accident.

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Mal Reynolds December 4, 2011 | 4:46 p.m.

Okay, so I'm happy she's alive and healthy. I am. But giving a drunk chick who fell over a set of stairs an "inspiration" award is absolutely lubricious.

I've fallen over stairs while drunk. I've hurt myself while drunk--I never asked for donations to help pay my hospital bills or gotten award for it. I guess I just need to be an underage drunk college girl before I get noticed for it.

(Report Comment)
Amber Hanneken December 4, 2011 | 5:38 p.m.

Completely agreed, Mal. This entire series has made it feel like she's a hero. The story here is more one of a lesson learned, poor choices, personal responsibility, and the culture in college towns that even leads to this kind of behavior.

(Report Comment)
Amber Hanneken December 4, 2011 | 6:11 p.m.

Another thought, you know who really deserves the Columbia Inspiration Award? The amazing doctors and staff who helped keep this woman alive, perhaps even her friend who gave her CPR.

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle December 4, 2011 | 6:46 p.m.

Everyone who stuck by Kelsi deserves an award: family, friends, doctors, therapists, mentors... all of them. Your dedication, perseverance, and unconditional love has made, and continues to make, all the difference in the world for Kelsi. Amazingly, and against all odds, each of you has already received your award.

Thank you for reminding me there are people who truly care for others.

(Report Comment)

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