Tampa woman welcomed home as recovery from accident continues

Schuyler Arakawa hit by boulder in February
Posted at 10:09 PM, Jul 16, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-16 23:22:41-04

A Tampa native is now back home in the Bay area, continuing her remarkable recovery and inspiring thousands.

Schuyler Arakawa, 23, was hit by a boulder in South America five months ago and has beaten all odds every step of the way.

Under a canopy of applause, friends and family officially welcomed Arakawa back home Saturday night.

"If we needed a miracle, we created a miracle.  I truly believe the only reason they're called miracles is that people do not believe they're capable of it.  But I believe every single one of us are capable of creating miracles," said Meridith Hankeson, Schuyler's mom.

And Schuyler's story has been full of the unimaginable from the start.  

When her mom's friend first heard Schuyler had been hurt in Colombia, she contacted another friend, Amalita Estrada, who happened to be from the South American country.  And without even knowing Schuyler or her family personally, Amalita stepped in, making every phone call she could to help.

"That was it.  I was in, and completely in.  And it's been a complete mission of a miracle of life," said Amalita Estrada.

Estrada hosted Saturday's celebration to welcome Schuyler back to Tampa Bay.  Friends, family, and people from teh community who have followed her story, were thrilled to see Schuyler's big smile up close, and to share in her joy.

"It's changed my life in the sense that it's made me value the beauty of life, the power of prayer and a good vibe, and thousands of people all praying for Schuyler I think has all made a big influence," said Estrada.

Schuyler and her family are convinced those thousands of people cheering them on, and following her story on Facebook, is part of the reason she's alive today.  And they believe her incredible progress so far, is just the start of more amazing things to come.

"There's still a lot of work to try and get her to the point where she can go out and change the world, like she dreams of doing, and I think we've learned that one little individual can have a huge impact on the world," said Hankenson.

And if you'd like to help, the family is hoping professional physical therapists might be willing to donate their services.  You can contact Joyce Mitchell about that by calling (727) 573-1900 or (727) 641-3550.  You can also pledge monetary support online at