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Valley Perspective

A Kind Act and Then a Trauma to Survive

A friend is struck by a car. Her injuries and her struggle to recover bring home the fact of life's fragility.

September 27, 1998|TONY GREENE | Tony Greene is a Studio City screenwriter

With the regular 1998 baseball season at an end, it does not appear that Rasila Schroeder will win Major League Baseball's coveted home run crown. Rasila has yet to hit a home run.

And it's unkilely she will. You see, Schroeder isn't on a major league baseball team. And there's very little chance she will be. Rasila Schroeder lies in a coma. The long ball aside, she will be fortunate if she can walk again. And talk. And smile that great big smile that used to warm hearts.

What started as a simple act of kindness by Rasila has grown into the biggest trauma ever to touch the lives of her family and friends.

It happened at 8 p.m. Aug. 23. My good, sweet, beautiful friend Rasila, 24, was rescuing a cat that had been hit by a car when, according to police, a drunk driver sped over a hill and hit her, sending her airborne. I wasn't there but I hear she landed 75 feet away.

Police said the driver drove his car into a parking structure and hid out. Fortunately, the laws of karma were on Rasila's side. He was spotted and arrested and faced his preliminary hearing on Tuesday.

For Rasila, spring training starts now. But it's the kind of spring training you get when you're just starting out in the big leagues. In other words, she's a rookie once again, and she's been forced to start her career over from square one.

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The real trauma she has suffered is in her head. According to her doctors, when her brain was bounced about on impact, it disrupted the flow of neurons that travel around the outside of her brain and it also stretched the brain stem, damaging the nerves. These pathways will not regenerate, meaning that her brain will have to find new circuits to send information along.

Her doctors hope Rasila can recover within one year.The frontal lobes of the brain, which stores personality, emotions and memories, appear to be undamaged, which means she has a chance of again becoming the woman her friends and family all love so much.

Rasila is a hero--just like Mark McGuire and just like Sammy Sosa. Every day they go out to the ball park and slug home runs, giving fans something to cheer about. Every day Rasila gets better, giving her family and friends something to cheer about.

As Mack slugged his record-breaking No. 62, Rasila was unconsciously yet purposefully pulling her oxygen tubes out of her throat because she evidently felt she could breathe on her own. As Sosa tied Mack up, Rasila (although still in a coma) was opening her eyes for the first time and responding to voice commands. As baseball fans across the country flood the radio waves chitchatting about the exploits of Mack and Sammy, friends and family are holding candlelight vigils and prayer services for Rasila. She's making major strides every day. She's breaking her own records and amazing us all. She's warming our hearts and inspiring us in so many ways.

I understand that all this homerun hoopla couldn't have happened to two nicer guys. Well, the same goes for Rasila. She is the kind of person who always made you smile. The kind of person who always found a way to cheer you up. And she always took the time to help you solve your problems.

She has a big heart and a strong will. That's why I know she's going to survive this. I don't know how long it will take. I don't know how much work it will require. But if there is anybody who has the mettle to overcome this kind of adversity, it is indeed my friend Rasila.

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Hands down. No question. And maybe in a weird way it was our fate that this happened. Maybe her healing will heal us all. Maybe it will show us that life is precious. That it's so damn precarious. That anything is possible. Look at Mack and Sammy. They showed us that No. 62 was possible and we cheer for them every day because they accomplished the impossible. Now it's time to get behind Rasila and cheer for her. Let's see her prove that we can survive the worst kinds of misfortune. Let's pray for her and root for her. Let's save all the priceless baseballs she hits our way, like when she holds up two fingers for her doctors, and put them into the Hall of Fame. Let's spend hours on talk radio lauding her daily victories and discussing how drunks should be banned from our roads.

I hope that one day Rasila does win that home run crown. But it won't be baseballs she'll be hitting. It will be strides. She's hitting them everyday. I love you, Rasila. My heart is with you always.

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