Whitney Cerak

We, the Cerak family, are elated beyond description at Whitney’s return home. It is so much more than we ever imagined three months ago.We would like to restate our plans of not speaking to the media. There is still much on the road to Whitney’s full recovery. We want to thank the media for the respect they have shown of our privacy in this time. And ask that the same courtesy given us would be extended to our family and friends.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

June 15, 2006

"Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality." Romans 12:12-13

We are so thankful for all of you that continue to pray for Whitney and for all involved in this situation. It is because of your united prayers that we are full of joy because of the hope found in Jesus Christ...that we are patient in this recovery road with Whitney...and our prayers combined with yours help us to remain faithful. We feel that you are sharing with us in a way that the world does not know.

We want to apologize for not updating in the past couple of days. There was a technological difficulty that prevented us from posting. So, today we will bring you up to date.

On June 13, Whitney had another good day. Her strength and endurance have remarkably increased. She started off the day slowly, telling the nurses that she is not really a morning person. After breakfast it was therapy sessions again. She made sandwiches for her Dad and Matt - one a chicken and ham with mayo and one ham and cheese with miracle whip. Then for herself she made a PBJ. She handled it all beautifully.

In the afternoon we learned how to transfer Whit from her wheelchair to our Suburban. We all did pretty good, good enough that if all goes well with her surgery the doctor might give permission for some time off campus. It could be a glorious Father's Day!

Her short term memory keeps improving. She surprises us with what she remembers from the day before. She keeps reminding us of her surgery as well as little facts she was told 24 hours earlier. It is not totally there (short term memory) but each day gaps get smaller.

She had a surprise today. She was on a walk with Matt when Lisa VanRyn came by to see Carly. Carly had visited with her earlier and wanted to be able to say goodbye to Lisa before Lisa heads up to the U.P. to help at summer camp. While we were talking Whitney came into the room and was introduced to Lisa. Due to what we are told is post traumatic amnesia, Whit did not recognize her. It was a pleasant conversation with the two realizing they had at least two things in common, Spring Hill and Taylor U. We were glad for the encounter between these two women. Lisa and her family mean so much to us. When the time is right and presents itself to us, we want Whit to know this awesome family who cared for her in those difficult weeks. VanRyns - we want you to know that we are indebted to you - we want you to know we are constantly praying for you. You are part of our family in the Lord.

That night Whit wanted to see the magazine with her picture on the front. So we showed her and she began to ask questions. She wants so to fill in any gaps. She found out for the first time that there were more just one life lost that night. When she found out the only response was a soft, sorrowful "Wow", repeated over and over. That night before sugery she had a very hard time sleeping, trying to digest all that she had learned. She wanted Colleen to lay beside her and rub her back and somehow her mother's touch helped her through it that night. I know you are...but please keep praying for her as she comes more and more to grip with the reality of her situation.

They got us up at 5:00am on Wednesday and Whit had her surgery at about 9:00. Doctor Ringler said that it went as well as he hoped for and that his goal for her is still to be as good a new. Soon she will be playing dodgeball again for her wing, pitching softballs for her coed team, and running down the soccer field. We are praising God for this as well. She had a good night resting from her ordeal in the surgery room and is scheduled to be released from the hospital today if all goes well.

Then it will be back to Spectrum Continuing Care and back to therapy for her leg. But the doctor says that in two weeks she will probably be walking on it. Today he says she is able to put as much presure on her leg as she can stand. Tremendous progress!

We are again sorry for the delay in the update but so thankful for God's faithfulness in all of this. PS...Colleen, Carly and Sandra are doing very well, thanks for asking.

In Christ alone, Whit's dad


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just a little FYI...although it may too late, but there is a wonderful site called caringbridge.org that I have, personally, been involved with over the past 2 years. It is an excellent way of passing on updates, as well as allowing others to post their messages to the person. Just in case there might be another glitch along the way...or if anyone else that reads this should ever need such a thing.
Thank You.

9:33 AM  
Anonymous Autumn said...

I'm so happy that she's doing so well! I have been anxiously awaiting news for the past couple of days, checking in the morning and night when I get on. But no news is often good news, right? You've been busy getting her better :-) Thank you for the update! I don't have to tell you to continue to lean on God through this, because God in all of your lives is so evident, and I'm so thankful for that. God bless you all, and Whitney as she recovers from her surgery! Hopefully she'll be out of the hospital in no time!!!!

9:34 AM  
Blogger Crystal said...

I am so happy your daughter is getting better. I have two little girls myself, and you have been in my thoughts and prayers. I will be thinking of your family.

9:48 AM  
Anonymous Dianne in Missouri said...

So glad to hear Whitney is improving daily. What a touching description of when Lisa came to visit. The Van Ryn family remains in my prayers. No need to apologize to us when you don't update. We know you're busy! God's blessings to all of you today and tomorrow too.

9:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am always left speechless after reading about Whitney - how much she has been through, the road ahead physically and emotionally... Thank goodness we serve a loving God who will continue to pour out his grace and mercy when we so desperately need it. Your family has done a beautiful job with Whitney and this entire situation. Colleen's loving acts as a mother bring me to tears. Thank you for taking the time to keep us all updated as if we were there with you, which we are in spirit. We love you.

10:15 AM  
Anonymous Emily said...

I'm so glad to hear Whitney continues to improve! Keep it up! I have Cerebral Palsy and use a power chair. Power chairs can be intimidating at first, but trust me you'll get used to it. Keep up the great work in therapy! You are an inspiration! I continue to pray for Whitney and your family on a daily basis, and look forward to updates on her progress. Most of all, hold tight to your strong faith and sense of humor! They carry you through even the toughest times!

10:18 AM  
Anonymous Kristy said...

Since I heard that your family would be posting a blog site for Whitney, I have been reading the updates. Smiling to myself about her eye brows :) I am so happy that Whitney is making such a remarkable recovery. I keep Whitney and your family in my thoughts, and I pray that things continue to go as well as they are!
Thank you,
~Kristy Pierce (I am friends with Sandra, we were on Alpenfest court together)

10:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I continue to watch for reports of Whitney's progress. To read the Bible verses and hear your messages of faith my heart just swells. Our family continues to pray for all the families as they lean on God for comfort and healing.Keep going Whitney!!!!!

10:31 AM  
Blogger Carrie said...

Woo-hoo!!! Go Whitney! Pretend that's me cheering you on in soccer and dodgeball because I know you're going to return to that super-star status! One of my work friends came in and was telling me how she saw the magazine and thought about me and how I knew you guys. Your testimony is having VERY far-reaching effects. Has Whitney gotten to see Hunter yet? I love you guys, and will be praying for Whit's short-term memory. It's good to have specific prayer!!!!

10:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Newell, Colleen, Carly and Whitney

Hebrews 6:19 " This hope we have as an Anchor of the Soul, both sure and steadfast....."

This verse was put before me yesterday and it reminded me again that without God we would have nothing to hold onto during storms in our life. I thank God that he is always here for us.

I don't know if you realize what Whitney has meant to us. We knew from that first meeting at Taylor in the dorm that Whitney and Emily would be much more than roommates, but close friends. They seemed to form a strong bond quickly. Their freshman year at TU has been filled with so many activities and adventures; from soccer and dodgeball championships, late night IHOP dates, garage sales, air-band, bible studies, trips to Spring Hill, Chicago and Cumberland Island and so much more. We at times wondered if they ever had time to sleep let alone study! As parents we were so thankful that God had placed these two girls together. My husband has even referred to them as "kindred spirits." Emily has grown so much spiritually this past year and I know that Whitney had a lot to do with that.

We appreciate that you have kept us in contact with the progress Whitney is making and the time Emily is allowed to spend with her. She cherishes those visits and calls.
We will continue to keep you all in our prayers.
Thank you
Lori Gerard

10:44 AM  
Blogger Pat said...

Hey Ceraks and Sandra,
Sure do miss your smiling faces around here! Carol and I have been praying daily for Whitney's recovery and for you all too! I here Dad has been sending plenty of cards and things for Whit. Hope she is enjoying them. We sure love you guys and we look forward to your soon return when we can embrace all of you. Your constantly in our prayers.
Love The Scotts

10:59 AM  
Blogger FightingFemale said...

I agree, no need to apologize! You aren't obligated to post, that's for sure, but your family/friends and well-wishers from around the world are very grateful that you take the time. I am an RN and to me there is nothing more moving than seeing someone recover from a head injury. I'll never forget a single one of those miraculous milestones I've seen.
Sending lots of love your way!

11:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! It was all I could do to keep from calling Spectrum for an update! Praying for you all.

South GA Sally

11:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What wonderful progress. I am so glad to hear that the surgery went well and things are progressing well. I pray that Whit comes to terms with the accident and mix-up God will grant her peace and understanding! I know it can't be easy, but God is good and faithful and He will give her all the support she needs to make a full recovery and bring her to full understanding of the situation!

Thanks for your tremendous faith, what an amazing example.

Deni, NY

11:29 AM  
Blogger In Progress said...

Don't worry about not updating right away. We understand that there is a lot of things going on with Whitney being in the hospital. Everyone post has so much information that even if you aren't able to post for a day or more you catch us up so well. Keep your eyes on Jesus in all of this. He is the Great Physician. He is also the Prince of Peace.

12:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am so glad to hear Whitney is getting better. I'll be praying for her and your family.

12:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am so impressed with how your family has handled everything. Our son was similarly injured as a 6 yr old and although it had been 16 yrs your descriptions of Whitney's recovery take me right back to those days. Our son was fortunate enough to have (with prayers from people around the country also-both christian and non christian varieties)a "complete recovery" and has just graduated college with excellent grades. Hovever times such this I can be transported back to those days in the hospital and seeing my little boy so injured. And although Whitney is not "little" anymore she is still your little girl in your heart. I am so touched by the image of Colleen laying next to her rubbing her back as it speaks to my mother heart.
Our family is not christian but we will be praying for your family and the other families involved.
Peace be with you.

12:43 PM  
Anonymous Kevin & Donna Nichols said...

Cerak Family - thanks so much for keeping us all up to date on what is happening with Whitney. I go in every day to find out what other wonderful things have happened the day before. God is so good and it is wonderful to see Him working in all these precious lives. I hope that Whitney is able to go home for Father's Day - what a priceless gift!

12:57 PM  
Blogger Al B. said...

Newell, Colleen, Carly, Sandra and especially....WHITNEY,

So glad to hear the surgery went well. After not seeing anything posted for the last few days I was a little worried but then wondered if E-FreeS Site could handle all the attention it was getting.

Every time I read one of the updates I feel SO happy with Whit's progress. Was nice to see that Lisa stopped by..what an awesome family and they too are in my prayers every day. I also loved Whit's comment, "thanks for speaking at my funeral"...I'm so glad to hear she is smiling and laughing as all of you need that so much. What a special girl you have there!! :-) Thanks again for keeping us, "your blog family" informed as you all mean so much to us....GO WHIT!!!!--->Bet Hunter will be glad to see his "big sis" when you get home!!

Al Brown
Pittsburgh, PA

1:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a wonderful young lady and what a wonderful family! We praise God along with you for Whitney's continued progress. God is using all of you in a way that you don't realize yet. Thank you for being an encouragement through a time of trial for you all.

1:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am so thankful that you have continued this blog-site with Whitney. It truly warms my heart that this beautiful young women is so Spirit-filled. You can "feel" her love for the Lord. Whitney, you will go far in life. Through your testimony, others will learn great things from you about the Father, His Son Christ Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Children all over this country, all over the world, need to hear your story and how your faith is getting you through all of this. You, Whitney, are a truly an awesome wonder. I look forward to reading more about your miraculous recovery. You are in my prayers. I pray that someday our paths will cross. I also will continue to keep the Van Ryn family in my prayers.

1:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Like so many others, I am so happy to see the blog continue. I check it daily and continue to be amazed by God's multiple gifts. Glad to know that Whitney is continuing to improve and so blessed to hear that Lisa came to visit. It must be very hard for everyone, but God is being glorified and hearts are being changed because of this experience. His love will bridge the gap of pain--eventually.

2:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Im am so happy to read that you are improving so well. You were one of my patients as Im a critical care flight paramedic. You have been in my prayers every night since. I wish you the best!! God bless you and your family! Not too many incidents I get to hear how the patient does after I transfer care to the hospital. I really enjoy everyday reading the blog and really drives me more in my job. You are inspiration to me aswell!!

2:12 PM  
Anonymous Jeanette Hoeksema said...

Hey, guys! We are praying these requests for you!

Love you!
the Hoeksemas

2:40 PM  
Anonymous Tiffany From Lubbock Texas said...

I was really worried when there were no updates for a couple of days! I feel like I am actually part of this even though I am so many miles away! Just wanted to let the whole family know I will continue to pray! It brings me great joy to hear of her progress! I will pray for comfort and understanding in dealing with the news of the accident to Whit. God bless you all!

2:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whitney, I'm still praying for your speedy recovery. I pray for you every day. I also pray for your family as well as the Van Ryn's. Stay strong in the Lord.

3:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't apologize...you have so much to take care of! Praying for Whitney, her family, and the Van Ryns. Your updates are a tremendous encouragement to me. Tell Whitney we all say 'keep up the good work' and that we are praying for her!
MK in Huntington, IN

4:13 PM  
Blogger Tom said...

Cerak and Vanryn families:

I just want you to know that I have never been religious in my 40 years, but I have now changed my mind.

It is amazing to me the strength I have seen from your families. If I ever have a daughter, I would want her to be like Whitney and Laura.

I will be going to church for the first time in 25 years this sunday. I'm following the blog daily and I'm praying for you Whit.

Tom Westbrook

6:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Cerak family,
Your blog today began with one of my favorite verses from Romans 12:12, "Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer." Our God brought this verse to my attention on the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend. At the time it meant to me that I was to trust God and remain patient while my niece Laura was healing, rejoice in the hope that God gives, and continually pray for her. Little did I know what that week would hold for our family. I love God's Word. It is so universal and the very same verse that speaks to you about Whitney now, continues to speak to me too - this time for Whitney and for Laura. Because of Jesus, we can be joyful in the hope of eternity together with Him, we can be patient in affliction of all kinds, and we are reminded to be faithful in prayer because we have His promise that He hears and answers. I want you to know that I am praying for Whitney's healing and for your family. May God bless your witness on this blog and sustain you throughout this time.
In His love, Laura's Aunt Linda

6:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This has been amazing, for so many people. But please, let us not put the weight of the world on Whitney and hold her out as the single instrument of God. That is far too much of a burden for anyone to shoulder. And as much as her faith, her family and all those who respond to this blog have held her in the highest esteem, please remember she and her family and friends are mere mortals and are just trying to get through this one day at a time... with your support. Let's be supportive. Let's be realistic. And let's not put more pressure than is needed.

6:51 PM  
Anonymous Madeleine said...

Thanks for the update! I must say that I was checking this site day and night for updates. I love hearing about Whitney's progress. :) It's so gracious of you to keep us up to date on how she is doing, so thank you so much for the time from your busy schedule. May God continue to Bless your family!

7:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sometimes this whole story leaves me just speechless. Just makes me want to sit back and wonder what God could be doing in my life if I let Him

7:17 PM  
Blogger Sheila said...

We are from the U.P. and have followed your and the VanRyn's site with much interest - we are thrilled with yours and the VanRyn's ability to see and SHOW God to the world through this situation - you have all been a blessing to our family - many times as I read the blog out loud to my family (we have 3 young daughters), I have to stop as I am crying. Where in the U.P. is Lisa VanRyn coming to - do you know? You will remain in our thoughts and prayers as will the VanRyn's.
God Bless you ALL :)

7:27 PM  
Anonymous Soon to be Taylor Mom said...

Tom Westbrook, I will be praying for you this Sunday. The Ceraks and VanRyns have given a wonderful testimony. It is so powerful and Christ filled. You are not alone in your feelings. They are real and I thank you for sharing them with the world. Happy Father's Day!

7:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear loved ones, I must say that Whit must be doing better than I am because when I got the magazine and saw the van, I wept, then I read a bit more, I wept, three days later and I still have not got that article read.
Whit I am so prowd of you!!!!!!
You have beaten all the odds and you are a go getter type of a gal.
Blessing and the Love of God,
Beth Kelley

7:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

1 Peter 4:12,13: "Friends, when life gets really difficult, don't jump to the conclusion that God isn't on the job. Instead, be glad that you are in the very thick of what Christ experienced. This is a spiritual refining process, with glory just around the corner." (The Message) No doubt that your lives and the VanRyn's have been "really difficult" for weeks, yet, God is being glorified in your lives! How encouraging to see it! My heart swells as I read your testimonies of His faithfulness and your faith in His goodness. Thank you for sharing with us and for pointing others to God throughout your "refining process". May God continue to strengthen you and give you His peace.

A sister in Christ,
Tatia in Wisconsin

7:43 PM  
Blogger Tom said...

Soon to be.

Thanks for your comment. I don't know anyone here, yet I feel like they are all my family. I have a need to share this faith.

7:50 PM  
Anonymous Laura Steinhoff said...

Newell, Colleen, Carly and Sandra-
I enjoy hearing all the good news about Whit. I praise God that she is doing well with her recovery. I will continue to pray for her as well as you guys. I'm so glad to hear that Whitney still loves God and is living for him. She is a strong girl. Tell her I love her. I can't wait to see you guys! :-D

7:51 PM  
Anonymous Lisa Herschberger said...

Hi Ceraks,

So glad to hear that Whitney's surgery went well and that she continues to get stronger every day. You are on our hearts and minds constantly, and we continue to pray for you all. We love you guys!

Dave, Lisa, Katie, and Jeffrey

8:01 PM  
Blogger Incredible Art Department said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

8:05 AM  
Blogger Incredible Art Department said...

The fact she is developing short-term memory so soon is indeed good news. My best friend from childhood was severely injured in a motorcycle accident and had brain damage. It has taken almost 30 years for some of his short term memory to return. He now remembers that I visited him earlier and that my sister (his teenage love) is already married.

It's obvious that God has a plan for Whitney. A former student of mine was born without arms and legs. God really had a plan for him. You can read about Brett here.

He is now a Christian and is able to spread the news to public schools- yes, you heard it right, PUBLIC schools. I look forward to the day when Whitney will be speaking to students about Christ.

8:08 AM  
Blogger I am a Milliner's Dream, a woman of many "hats"... said...

How God protects us--and perhaps this encounter between Lisa and Whitney was "safe" for them both at this time...


8:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for keeping this blog updated. Your family continues to be a shining example of God's grace. The little details about Whitney's recovery remind the world that she is not just a "victim of mistaken identity" but rather a beautiful, spirited and determined young woman with a loving family. Best wishes for a complete recovery. What an amazing second chance at life!

10:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Praise God for his healing power for Whitney and her family. You are all ( and the Van Ryn's) in my prayers

3:42 PM  
Anonymous julie said...

hi, my name is Julie. I am from Churubusco Ind. On June 9 my daughter was in a 4-wheeler accident that left her in a coma. Now four weeks later, we are at Indianapolis, In at St. Vincent childrens rehab hospital. She is making very slow progress. I have been been inspired by Whitney's story and it has made me hopefully for my daughter's recovery. It has been very hard watching all the pain and not being able to make it go away, that's what a mom does... Julie

8:38 AM  

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