Layla Shelmire Overcomes the Unexpected

Layla Shelmire: Overcoming the Unexpected

Stories like Layla’s remind us that the abilities many of us take for granted, such as treading water, expressing emotions or displaying resilience in the face of adversity can mean everything.

At just three years of age, Layla Shelmire joined the National Ability Center’s aquatics and equestrian program this summer. Her family hoped that recreating with the National Ability Center could help her learn new skills, build self-esteem and form lasting relationships. They could not have anticipated these lessons might also save her life.

Layla SmilingAs summer’s warm weather drew to an end the Shelmire family decided to take one last family camping trip to Flaming Gorge. Layla and her mother, Nara, were camping when suddenly, a flash flood swept their tent away. Nara and Layla were slammed into a boulder. Nara grabbed the first thing she could to try and stabilize both Layla and herself. The tent had been zipped shut, but the impact of the rock ripped the tent open, endangering both mother and daughter. Nara held onto the rock with one hand and clung to Layla with the other. She held on as long as she could, but the force of the water tore Layla away and sent her downstream.

Layla’s tenacity and swimming abilities had kept her afloat amongst the turbulent waters.

Nara climbed to a safe place and began frantically searching for Layla. 20 minutes later, she found her, clinging for her life and still treading water amidst piles of debris. Thankfully Layla’s tenacity and swimming abilities had kept he afloat amongst the turbulent waters. Layla was rushed to Vernal Hospital. Life Flight then took Layla to Primary Children’s Hospital, where doctors gave her a 20% chance of living and put her into a medically induced coma for three days while they removed rocks and sticks from her lungs.

Captain Brownie - Therapy HorseShe could calm Layla only by talking with her about Captain Brownie–the therapy horse she rides here at the National Ability Center.

As Layla eventually woke from her coma, she was very upset and her mother shared that she could calm Layla only by talking with her about about Captain Brownie–the therapy horse she rides here at the National Ability Center. Layla has since made a full recovery and is now back to 100% percent cognition. She returned to the National Ability Center for aquatics lessons this fall where she continues to progress and was presented a Certificate of Bravery!

All who are a part of the National Ability Center community can attest to the power of recreation to transform lives and families. But, stories like Layla’s remind us that the abilities many of us take for granted, such as treading water, expressing emotions or displaying resilience in the face of adversity can mean everything.

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