After freak car accident, local woman is paralyzed, receives ramp for Christmas

December 22, 2023

CRAWFORDVILLE — This Christmas will be different.

April Stevens is learning how to navigate life knowing she'll never walk again. She was severely injured in a car crash Aug. 12 off Blountstown Highway when her car flipped over several times and landed on cars parked at Life Church International Center, as church service was suddenly disrupted.

Parked cars in the church's lot cushioned the impact, possibly sparing her life.

The crash left her paralyzed from the waist down, when without a seat belt she was tossed into the back window of the vehicle.

Yet, she still smiles. She still finds a reason to see life as a gift. And, for Christmas, all she wanted was a wheelchair ramp.

This month, the 37-year-old mother of three sons emerged from a side door of her home. Out front, the sound of buzz saws and hammering nails pierced the crisp cool air. The activity, thanks to caring strangers, was a blessing.

Before the car accident, Stevens worked 12 years for herself at April's Cleaning Service.

"It just changed a whole lot for me, because I was always that person that would go out and go get it and just work and work and you know, never sit down,"  said Stevens, regarding her life before the crash. "Now it's like completely different."

The ramp will be a lifeline for Stevens, who now uses 4 feet plywood pieces to roll over steps leading in and outside of her doublewide home and a manual chair that she needs assistance to get on and off of when leaving her home.

The Rev. Greg James, who pastors Life Church International Center, stayed in touch with Stevens after the crash and wanted to help.

He reached out to Florida-based tech entrepreneur Freddie Figgers, who agreed to foot the bill for a ramp. The estimated cost is about $5,000, along with a $1,000 gift for Stevens and holiday shopping for Stevens' children and a weekly meal provided by KFC. The ramp construction was courtesy of Lockwood Construction.

James said the effort is part of an overall outreach to help residents, including senior citizens, who have a dire need for improved mobility.

Stevens' story hit him hard. Recently, after having visited her to check in, he marveled at how her positive outlook wasn't clouded by the aftermath of the crash. He sat in his car and just cried.

"Here's a woman who's not negative. She's not mad,"  James said. "Only thing she says is, 'I'm just happy to be alive.' "

Figgers, a Quincy native who founded Figgers Communication, the country's only Black-owned telecommunications company, said he was touched by the fact that Stevens' life was so irrevocably altered.

"As a private entity coming together to support someone in need, we're all in this together," he said. "It's only the right thing to do, literally. You don't have to rely on government to come save the day. If everyone works together, we can support each other and make a difference in everyone's life."

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