World's longest-living quadriplegic in critical condition after being struck by car

Tuesday, April 24, 2012 | 7:59 p.m. CDT; updated 9:48 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, April 24, 2012

COLUMBIA — For most of her life, 83-year-old Janet E. Barnes has depended on crutches or her wheelchair as forms of mobility, but she has always viewed her circumstance as a blessing rather than a hindrance.

"She's always on the go," said Jill McClintock, independent living specialist at Services for Independent Living.

Barnes has been an active community member, volunteering at Shepard Elementary as a foster grandparent and at University Hospital as a flower carrier who hand-delivers floral arrangements to patients' rooms, according to a 2003 Missourian article.

Although Barnes is no longer active in the program, McClintock said being a foster grandparent was one of Barnes' "greatest joys."

Barnes was struck by a car Monday while crossing College Avenue in her motorized wheelchair. As of Tuesday afternoon, she was in critical condition in the ICU at University Hospital.

Her daughter, Angela Barnes, is posting updates about her mother's condition on her website, Her daughter notes on her website that doctors are "aware of her fighting spirit to live."

Barnes was born in 1928 with a broken neck that left her a quadriplegic for life. She was not expected to live past her 14th birthday but last September, the World Records Academy confirmed she is the longest-living quadriplegic.

In Columbia, she has also been involved in the Community Garden Coalition, where she supplied seeds and plants to residents at Freedom House, an apartment complex for the disabled.

"She's just an extraordinary person," McClintock said.

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