An online fundraiser is being held to help a former Carl Junction standout athlete severely injured in an accident in Arkansas last month.
JeLynn Tatum was driving near Jonesboro, Arkansas, when she hydroplaned and was hit by a tractor-trailer rig. She was cut out of her destroyed car by emergency responders and flown to Memphis, Tennessee with spinal injuries and a collapsed lung on June 1.
The 2016 CJHS graduate has no feeling below her chest and is paralyzed.
Tatum had a second surgery on June 2 to help fix her spine's alignment. Her spinal cord wasn't severed but she is still paralyzed.
Her sister, Shae Davis, has started a GoFundMe page (Help JeLynn Tatum Fight Back) to help cover costs associated with her long-term hospital stay. As of Sunday, July 25, more than $39,000 has been raised for Tatum.
A Facebook group, JeLynn's Journey: Turning Miles Into Milestones, has also been started to provide updates on the situation.
"It's just the start of her life and she will do big things," said former Arkansas State teammate Parker Sitton told KJNB FOX/CBS. "It has been a rollercoaster feeling hurt but also feeling positive it will be better."
Added another former teammate, Elizabeth Gillette, "JeLynn is extremely optimistic and extremely outgoing. I think that is the best thing about the situation; she has the ability to overcome it."
An update on the Facebook page from her mother, Jill, said that a target end rehab date is Aug. 12 due to JeLynn showing so much progress in inpatient care. She is at Craig Hospital in Englewood, Colorado.
Tatum posted on her Facebook page on June 5, "Thank you guys for sending all of the love over these past couple of days! Finally got out of the trauma ICU and in my own room on the step down floor with a window (it's the little things). I love reading all of your messages when I have the energy. Still can't wrap my head around the amount of people that have reached out! Your encouragement means everything."
Tatum is also working on her master's in Exercise Science with hopes of graduating in August from Arkansas State. After she is released from rehab, the plan is to move to the Northwest Arkansas area.
She earned her undergraduate degree from the university in August 2020.
Tatum was a runner for the Wolves, in cross country and track and field.
She was an all-state runner in high school for the Carl Junction Lady Bulldogs.
Tatum qualified for the state cross country meet three times, taking 33rd as a junior and 35th as a senior in 2015 - the year Carl Junction took fifth in Class 3. She just missed all-state honors her senior year in track and field as the 4x800-meter relay team that took ninth place.
Tatum earned two all-state medals as a junior, taking fourth in the 4x800 and was sixth in the 1,600-meter run.