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The Red Ledger

The online student news source of Lovejoy High School

The Red Ledger

The online student news source of Lovejoy High School

The Red Ledger

Freshman runs against adversity

After a paintball accident left her arm without feeling two years ago, Evie McGowan still keeps her legs moving on the cross country team
Courtesy of Evie McGowan
Two years ago, Evie McGowan was in a paintball accident that left her arm paralyzed. Now, she runs on the cross country team.

The summer before her seventh grade year, Evie McGowan heard the sound of the gun firing and then felt the sting of the paintball as it exploded against her neck, but her adrenaline was too high to really feel it. She continued to fire at her opponents, unaware of the damage that had already been done.

It wasn’t until later as Evie and her friends were riding down a water slide that she realized something was very wrong.

“I had hit my hand on the side and I didn’t feel it,” Evie, now a freshman, said. “I started freaking out and when I got in the water, I couldn’t feel the water on my arm, and so I went to the nurse with one of my counselors and they did a whole bunch of strength tests. [They found that] I was losing strength in my arm.”

After visiting a local clinic, Evie was transferred to Tyler hospital and put into the ICU.

“They called from the clinic to say that they were transferring her to the ER/hospital in Tyler and that we should meet them there,” mother Stephanie McGowan said. “At this point, I was thinking that they were probably just being cautious. Her awesome counselor was there and Evie was as calm as a cucumber.”

Even though she looses feeling in her arm, she still continued to pursue long distance running on the school cross country team.
Courtesy of
Even though she looses feeling in her arm, she still continued to pursue long distance running on the school cross country team.

The doctors soon discovered what was wrong with Evie.

“[At first] they didn’t know what was going on, if it was something with my brain or my neck,” McGowan said. “But it ended up being nerve damage in a nerve bundle and the scar tissue had wrapped around it and internal bleeding from the bullet seeped onto it.”

What the McGowans’ didn’t know was that this would be no easy fix.

“The next morning, they really couldn’t give us a very good explanation of her condition other than to say that the nerve in her arm had been injured,” Stephanie said. “By this time, from the elbow up on her left arm was extremely hyper-sensitive.  From elbow down, it was numb.  She couldn’t use her left arm at all and had to be very careful because of the pain.”

The process to find the right treatment took longer than the McGowan family had expected.

“Days turned into weeks, which turned into months,” Stephanie said. “She was being seen by her pediatrician and by a team at Scottish Rite Hospital. Scottish Rite was suggesting that it would simply take a long time for the nerve to heal. After seven months in a sling and very little change in status, Dr. Johnson, her pediatrician recommended that we see a physical therapist whom he knew to be particularly good with nerve injuries.”

Since the accident, Evie has slowly been healing from her injury.

McGowan not only has her legs to worry about while she's running, but she also has to worry about her arm, that goes numb when she runs.
Courtesy of
McGowan not only has her legs to worry about while she’s running, but she also has to worry about her arm, that goes numb when she runs.

“A little more than two years down the road, she is definitely better,” Stephanie said. “She still has to be careful with regard to hydration- as that seems to trigger the nerve to act up. This hit hard during an XC meet last year. Without warning, her upper arm was “on fire” and she was really struggling with the pain to finish the race. As for her healing, she still can’t feel some parts of her left hand and we’re not sure whether that will return. That may be a little souvenir of this experience, to remind her that she can persevere and that God has a plan for her.”

Friends of Evie have gotten used to her injury and are glad it seems to be healing.

“She was in a sling for almost a year and it hurt for her to move her arm,” freshman Brock Yeager said. “She couldn’t run or play any sports while it was hurt. Now she is back playing soccer and running cross country. [I’m really] happy she’s feeling better.”

Although Evie’s injury has held her back from a lot of things, her mother believes the situation has “built her character.”

“She kept an incredible upbeat attitude [throughout the healing process],” Stephanie said. “She was intent on learning what God might teach her through this experience; patience, empathy. She lost a year of being physically active, but gained character lessons in return.  She certainly understands, better now than ever, that things sometimes don’t go as planned- and you get to choose your outlook.

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Jordan Toomey
Jordan Toomey, Lead Reporter
You’re walking in the halls. There’s no one around and your phone is dead. Out of the corner of your eye, you spot it: Senior Year. Entering her third and final year in newspaper, Jordan kind of feels like her leg is caught in a bear trap. High school has flown by and now that it’s her final year, she...feels exactly like she did all the other three years. It’s really not a big deal. She just wants to leave. Aside from using an excessive amount of actual cannibal Shia Labeouf references, Jordan also enjoys binge eating excessive amounts of chocolate, watching way too many YouTube videos, and taking naps in odd places (Ex: On top of bar stools). Jordan thinks she’s probably the best person who’s ever lived, and though several people have tried to convince her otherwise, she remains confident in this fact. If she could marry anyone in the whole world it would be Whataburger. Jordan is looking forward to doing more opinion pieces this year, because although she excels at and love news writing, she has a lot of thoughts that she would like to share. If you’re ever sad, talk to her, because she gives a lot of good advice. On the other hand she’s very blunt about it, so approach with caution. She is way too sarcastic for her own good and sometimes crosses several fine lines, but the good news is this - she doesn’t care. In closure, this bio is all over the place but that’s okay, because it’s just a normal Tuesday night for Shia Labeouf.

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  • S

    Sandy Durham StrphensonOct 8, 2015 at 9:34 pm

    thank you for this story of perseverance by this beautiful girl. She’s my granddaughter and I’m very proud of her.

  • C

    Cassey ChapmanOct 8, 2015 at 7:01 pm

    Evie McGowan is one of the most incredible young ladies that I know! I am the children’s minister at Gateway Community Church in Wylie, Texas where the McGowan family attends and is very active in ministry there.
    Evie is an extroidinary teenager and is truly the most compassionate, gracious and loving young lady who is adored by all who know her!
    What a testimony of her strong faith and her character that she has persevered for two years…. Trusting God every step of the way!
    We love you Evie and are proud to see how God continues to grow your character along this journey!
    ❤️ Mrs. Cassey