May 2017 Shara Lawhorne
May 1, 2017
Shara Lawhorne - May 2017
Before her brain injury, Shara Lawhorne was the picture of health and activity: she was very active, a vegetarian, and rode her bike everywhere. She worked with fire and safety patrol, coordinated shows and art festivals, attended University of South Florida, climbed Machu Picchu, managed a health food store, and was a gymnastics coach.
One day while riding her bike to work in the pouring rain, Shara was hit by a motor vehicle. While she doesn't remember much from the immediate aftermath of the accident, she remembers the rain on her face as she went down the hill and then she remembers floating through the air and people all around her in the street. The driver of a minivan had struck her head from behind – with the vehicle's mirror – at 45 mph.
As she lay in the road, Shara had what she describes as "an experience." Though prior to the accident, she didn't really believe or not believe in Jesus, she clearly remembers being at the bottom of the hill and seeing Jesus to her left. She doesn't know exactly how she knew it was him because it didn't really look like him, but she was climbing the hill with a backpack and he wouldn't let her go by. He kept telling her to go back down the hill and so she walked down switchbacks to get to the bottom of the hill where there was an enormous clearing the size of 20 football fields. There people were standing like a choir and they were different beings, different colors, and they vibrated and she heard the most beautiful music. She felt reassurance, peace, and bliss for just a second in her gut and then she woke up.
Shara was in paralyzed and in a coma immediately after the accident. She then had a stroke while in the coma and lost function on her right side (which was, of course, her dominant side). Shara had to relearn everything, and eventually transferred out of the hospital to a transitional living center.
Living in New Jersey after the accident was way too much stimulation (there was so much traffic, rush hour, strip malls everywhere) and Shara felt like she could no longer live there. She had family in Maine and decided to give life in Maine a try. For many years, she lived up on a 40-acre, self-sufficient property in Lincoln. She has lived in Bangor for the last eight years.
Shara continues rehabilitation and is working on a degree through the University of Maine Augusta in Bangor, a Bachelor's in Science in mental health, with just an internship left to complete.
One of her biggest current projects is Pets for Farmer Vets, which is operated by United Farmer Veterans of Maine, a volunteer, non-profit organization devoted to supporting veterans in Maine. They are located right next door to Shara and one day she contacted them about volunteering. They had just started the program and needed someone to oversee it, and now Shara is the primary contact for the program.
Pets for Farmer Vets works to match companion dogs (these dogs are not service dogs yet, but they can become service animals in the future if desired) with veterans who have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI). Veterans interested in participating in the program go through an intake process, get interviewed to determine the best match, and then are connected with the Bangor Humane Society. All of the dogs are rescues and the adoptions are provided free of charge for the veteran: the dogs are spayed/neutered, vaccinated, the adoption fee is waived, and the veteran and their companion dog are also provided with six weeks of obedience training.
Since November 1, 2016, Pets for Farmer Vets has matched five Maine veterans with companion animals. In March of 2017, the organization held a successful fundraising event, which raised $2000 to build a storage locker for all of the pet supplies needed for the program.
Interested in the Pets for Farmer Vets program? You can reach out to Shara at 207-431-0472 or visit the website: http://ufvme.org/pets-for-farmer-vets/.