Exclusive: Tampa woman continues remarkable recovery after being hit by boulder

Schuyler Arakawa hit by boulder on Feb. 19
Posted at 5:43 PM, Jul 08, 2016

A Tampa woman nearly killed five months ago in South America is stunning everyone with her remarkable recovery. 

Schuyler Arakawa was on a Yale post-grad fellowship in Peru, when she went on a weekend rafting trip to Colombia with friends. While swimming, a large boulder fell from 30 feet above, crushing her. Today, she continues to defy the odds and inspire thousands in the process.

Schuyler Arakawa is known to friends and family for her warm smile. Not even a direct hit from a massive boulder has wiped that smile away.

It's amazing because doctors didn't think Schuyler would live after the February 19th accident.

"They'd say look at this. This is impossible. Textbook impossible," said Meridith Hankenson, Schuyler's mom.

But from the moment Meridith arrived at Schuyler's side, she was upbeat and positive, she says it was because she knew Schuyler would recover.

"I'm not giving into this she might die. No. I know. I know. I know. And I know, that if I know strongly enough, there's no other option," Hankenson said.

Not only did Schuyler survive the first few critical days in a tiny, Colombian hospital, she was well enough, fast enough, to fly back to Florida. 

She spent several weeks at the University of Miami Hospital, undergoing six surgeries to repair bone fractures in her back, foot and skull, and to help her brain heal.  This week, her road to recovery has led back home to Tampa, where she's now undergoing outpatient rehab.

"Miracles are easy.  Anyone can do a miracle.  They're fun.  They're easy.  The only reason they're called miracles is that some people believe they're hard to accomplish," said Hankenson.

Since Schuyler's near-death experience, her mom has been writing updates with a big dose of hope and encouragement through a Facebook page called "Schuy is the Limit".

"Anyone who'd say the world is becoming such a horrible place, take a look at our page. It is not.  It is filled with absolute angels who had no need to reach out to our family.  It's absolutely the best in humanity," Hankenson said.

Dozens of benefits continue to raise money to help Schuyler's rehabilitation and her mom's transition to full-time caregiver.  They both feel the future looks exciting and encouraging, and hope their journey continues to inspire others.

"If we can help to change the world, we're in. 100 percent," Hankenson said.

And Schuyler is offering a simple message to everyone supporting and cheering her on to a full recovery..

"Thank you, and the Schuy is the limit!" Arakawa said.

You can help Schuyler and her family by donating here: