BY JAMES JUETT
FOR THE DAILY INDEPENDENT
RUSSELL It was in the quiet time of night sometime between dusk and dawn in June 2013 when Leslie Hicks received the call that no mother ever wants to get.
Her daughter, Jade McCoy, was on the other end of the line with the bad news that Hicks’ daughter, Baylee Booth, had been in a terrible automobile accident in Flatwoods.
Hicks’ job as a travel nurse had taken her to Zanesville, Ohio, that day. She was soon off on a stormy night on the most worrisome four-hour drive of her life.
Her destination was St. Mary’s Medical Center in Huntington where she found her daughter in a coma.
It was summertime and Booth’s sophomore year at Russell High School was looming on the horizon.
She loved school, and had been excited to begin her second year as a Red Devil varsity cheerleader.
All of that was temporarily put on hold while she spent two weeks at St. Mary’s before going to Cardinal Hill Hospital in Lexington for two months, to relearn how to do things most take for granted.
“I was in my coma for a week. I had to learn how to walk and talk. I had to learn how to do everything all over again. I was just like a baby. It was really frustrating because I couldn’t do what everybody else could do. St. Mary’s definitely has helped me, and I thank them so much,” Booth said. “I just wanted to be a normal teenager and do what everybody else did. I wanted to go to high school every day. I wanted to surprise my mom and everything. I was afraid I would forget the cheers and stuff.”
Those things have all been taken care of, and Booth is a normal teenager who likes to talk about the great year Russell’s football team had, especially since this is her senior year.
As a nurse, Hicks’ primary patient became her daughter.
“I stayed with her 24 hours a day until she came home. They had a program where patients’ families actually participated in their recovery. She learned in a matter of two months what she would learn in five to six years,” Hicks said of the time in Lexington. “She came home and we started outpatient rehab at King’s Daughters. She spent about three days a week at King’s Daughters,” Hicks said.
Booth started going back to school slowly.
“I had to go on Tuesdays and Thursdays for about like two months. I only went for two hours,” Booth said. “Russell High School’s just been wonderful. Her counselor (Jennifer Perry), I just can’t praise her enough,” Hicks said.
The activity that Booth perhaps loves the most played a big part in her recovery.
“We worked with her coach, then Christa Campbell, and her coach now Regina Rice. They have worked with Baylee to promote her recovery using the cheerleading as a form of her physical therapy for her. She could remember the cheers and the motions, but she couldn’t remember what day it was,” Hicks said. “She never missed one ballgame. She’s done really remarkable with that,” Hicks added.
“While we were at St.
Mary’s, so many people in the community had reached out to us to offer support, and they wanted information and we just didn’t get to everybody. So my sister, Stephanie Ratcliff, is the one who established Baylee’s Miracle Facebook and we use that as a way of communication to keep everybody updated and in turn people started showing support for Baylee and posting things for her throughout her recovery. Not just Russell, but the whole Tri-State area pulled together and was very supportive of Baylee,” Hicks said.
Booth uses her tragedy to help others and Baylee’s Miracle on Facebook has evolved into support for other traumatic brain injury survivors.
“In our community we have several right now that are corresponding with the families and to offer them support,” Hicks said.
Unlike her time in Lexington two years ago, Booth hopes for a more enjoyable time there in the years to come.
“I want to go to UK,” she said. Booth wants to major in art and theater, and recently she’s been in the limelight in a commercial for St. Mary’s.
“She wants to go to UK. That has been her dream for many years. She is determined. Once she puts her mind on something, you better count on it,” Hicks said.
At school, Booth is active in Fellowship of Christian Athletes. She attends First Pentecostal Church of Flatwoods. Hicks said the support from the church was amazing.
“All that I can really say is that all faith is in God,” Booth said. “He definitely got me through it all and he still is.”