Stacey Fordyce wants to help others

Stacey Fordyce is determined to transform a negative experience into something positive.

Her purpose in life, she said, is to educate and set an example so others can learn from her experiences.

Fordyce had a bright future ahead of her after graduating from Parkersburg South High School in 2004. She was an honor roll student, prom queen, homecoming queen, junior class president, cheerleader and a Southern Belle at Parkersburg South.

Fordyce considered herself to be a responsible person.

She had her first drink of alcohol on her 18th birthday while attending college, she said.

Around midnight on Dec. 22, 2005, Fordyce said, she got in a car with four other people from a party to drive to a store. About a mile from the party, the driver lost control of the vehicle, which struck an embankment and rolled near Gihon Road.

Fordyce, who was not wearing a seatbelt, was sitting in the back seat of the vehicle at the time of the accident. She suffered a broken neck and was paralyzed from the neck down.

She was 19 years old.

Fordyce tells others to make good decisions in life and not to be swayed by others who are making poor decisions. A course of action she said she did not follow on the night of Dec. 22, 2005.

Fordyce, 31, of Parkersburg plans to speak at a teen safe driving program on April 29 in the Kmart parking lot in south Parkersburg.

Organized by Dan McPherson, the event, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., is designed to teach safe driving practices to area residents 14 to 18 years old.

Law enforcement officials and the Wood County coroner will be assisting with the program. The hazards of drinking while driving and texting while driving will be demonstrated at stations.

The teenagers can try the Seat Belt Convincer and a driving simulator. Prizes will be awarded in drawings to teen drivers who complete all 10 driving stations.

McPherson said he wants to once again — this is the 29th year for the teen safe driving program — reinforce safe driving practices as high school proms and graduation parties approach in the upcoming weeks.

Since her accident, Fordyce has been speaking at schools and churches about making the right decisions and being responsible. She talks about the hazards of drinking and driving and the necessity of being careful.

Fordyce, as a quadriplegic, is overcoming obstacles in her life.

She has regained some strength in her arms. She has learned to type and dial a telephone using her knuckles.

She can hold the phone to her ear. She can turn the pages of a book.

“You learn that anything is possible,” Fordyce said.

Using a special apparatus on her wheelchair, Fordyce still goes deer hunting with her father, Raymond “Jed” Fordyce.

Fordyce is taking online college classes with an interest in counseling, psychology and journalism.

“Life is still good,” Fordyce said, with her goal being to help others.

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Tim Smith is hoping to attract a larger crowd to tonight’s “festive Christian music celebration,” featuring Melody Joy of Boaz and JJ Weeks Band from Macon, Ga., at Blennerhassett School Auditorium.

As of Thursday evening, Smith said he had sold only 90 tickets for the 6 p.m. show and had given some tickets to social service organizations.

This is a far cry from previous years when Smith, president of the nonprofit Dunamis Concerts, sold 500 tickets to a Christian concert at Warren High School and about 1,000 tickets for a concert in Marietta, he said.

“It’s hard to see all the empty seats,” said Smith, 58, of Marietta.

Smith said he provides contemporary Christian music at concerts with a modern beat to appeal to young people, along with a Christian message that is designed to uplift and encourage.

During the past 22 years, Smith has worked to bring over 100 nationally known artists, along with regional artists, to the Mid-Ohio Valley, he noted. Smith is employed at DuPont Washington Works and is a 1977 graduate of Parkersburg High School.

Contact Paul LaPann at plapann@newsandsentinel.com

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