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How a Latter-day Saint Parkland Shooting Survivor Plans to Help Heal Others

One year ago, Maddy Wilford arrived at Broward Health North Hospital fighting for her life after a gunman opened fire on her and her classmates in Parkland, Florida. Today, the high school senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas is turning tragedy into a chance to bless the lives of others.

Seventeen people were killed in a mass shooting on February 14, 2018, including Maddy’s fellow ward member 14-year-old Alaina Petty. Seventeen more were injured. Maddy Wilford was shot multiple times. The first responders thought she was dead when they first saw her. When they realized she was still alive, they rushed to stabilize her and the quick response saved her life. She underwent five surgeries in two days to repair the substantial damage to her arm, back, and torso.

Parkland shooting survivor and Latter-day Saint teen Maddy Wilford recovers from her injuries

Maddy Wilford, 18, recovers in the hospital with her brother and fellow Marjory Stoneman Douglas student, John Wilford, 15. Screenshot from Haystack TV.

Her recovery has been nothing short of miraculous.

Maddy’s mother, Missy Wilford, told the Church News that prayer and priesthood blessings have played an essential role in her daughter’s ongoing recovery.

“This is just a miracle,” she said when Maddy was discharged from the hospital one week after the shooting. “Her healing process has been amazing.” 

This summer, Maddy returned to the hospital that saved her life.

Parkland shooting survivor and Latter-day Saint teen Maddy Wilford recovers from her injuriesOnly this time, she was returning to help others. She spent her time volunteering as an intern at Broward Health North Hospital. Maddy worked side by side with Dr. Igor Nichiporenko, the doctor who treated her after she was wounded in the shooting only months before.

“The excitement and joy it gave me watching [the doctors] help someone—I can’t even put it into words,” Maddy told Rolling Stone.

She even got to scrub in for rib repair surgery—the same procedure she received a year ago.

“It also was kinda like closure for me," she told Haystack TV "because being able to see, ‘Oh they did that to my body,’ and like understanding how they fixed me kinda was interesting and helped heal me in a way.” 

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A Laurel in the Coral Springs Ward, Maddie is continuing to heal from injuries, both seen and unseen. In May, she got a service dog, a German shepherd named Anya, to help her cope with the physical and emotional trauma she sustained.

Parkland shooting survivor and Latter-day Saint teen Maddy Wilford plays with her service dog

Screenshot from Rolling Stone.

The 18-year-old is looking forward to her high school graduation. She is taking some time to heal mentally before dealing with the stress of college, but she plans to study medicine in the future.  

“All the doctors I talked to at the hospital were very impressed with her,” her father, David Wilford, told Haystack TV. “And [they] say she has a natural affinity for medicine. . . . I am just really proud of her.” 

Her mother said Maddy has been an inspiration to her.

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“Madeleine knows who she is and she knows where she wants to go and what she wants in life—and that strength and power is what helps you heal,” she told the Church News. “It makes you want to get up. It makes you want to keep going."

Two weeks before the shooting, Maddy spoke in stake conference about turning to the Savior as a source of strength.

“Most people say they don’t believe in God because if there was a God, all these terrible things wouldn’t be happening,” Maddy told the congregation, “but that’s what we’re put on this earth to do, to endure a lifetime, and life’s going to be full of ups and downs. The only way we can make it better is to turn toward Christ and know that He always has a plan for us, and He’ll help us through it no matter what.”

Maddy’s plan is to be there for future shooting victims. “The power of medicine helped me," she said. "It makes me want to . . . be able to use that to help other people.”

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Lead image via YouTube screenshot
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