It was intended to be a fun family bike ride. Daisy Neely was only three days away from turning nine years old and her parents had decided to let her have her present, a new bicycle, a week early.
However, what began as a fun afternoon on that day in April 2013 suddenly turned tragic when Daisy was struck by a car while riding her bicycle. She survived the devastating accident but was left paralyzed from the torso down.
Since then, the rising sophomore at Pender High School in Burgaw, North Carolina, says she has been looking for a purpose.
“I wanted to improve myself and do what was right for me and for God and to be the best in everything I can,” said Daisy who, two years ago, joined the track team at her school and discovered a love for shotput and discus.
In fact, during her freshman year of high school she made it to state competition. To qualify for state she had to throw a minimum of 6 feet.
Her distance: 9.6 feet.
She quickly showed tremendous potential. And, a relentless drive.
This week, she is pursuing her dream of competing at the elite level by training with an Olympian who once had the same pursuit. Daisy is on the campus of East Tennessee State University where she is training with faculty member Meg Stone, who competed in shotput and discus during the 1980 and 1984 Olympic Games in Moscow and Los Angeles, respectively.
Stone directs ETSU’s Center of Excellence in Sport Science and Coach Education and has spent years training elite athletes from around the world. This week she is helping Daisy on improving her throw and also instructing her on weightlifting techniques and developing herself physically.
Stone describes Daisy as “very eager.”
“I am grateful and blessed for this opportunity,” Daisy added. “I am also determined, and in order to better yourself you have to draw from something deep inside.
“I might not have felt that way six years ago after my accident, but today I want it,” she said.
Daisy and her mom, Sunshine, say they are grateful to ACCESS of Wilmington, an organization dedicated to helping children, adults and veterans with disabilities to overcome barriers in sports, recreation and fitness. The organization has been working with Daisy for the past two years.
They are also grateful to House of Raeford Farms FLOCK for funding her trip to ETSU for the training. “One of the pillars of support that FLOCK maintains is youth development,” said Bob Johnson, CEO and owner of House of Raeford and president of the FLOCK board of directors. “By assisting Daisy in developing her competitive track skills, we feel her resulting success will be an inspiration to other young people living with a disability.”
About House of Raeford Farms & House of Raeford Farms FLOCK
House of Raeford Farms, Inc. is one of the nation’s top ten largest chicken producers, providing ready-to-cook and further processed chicken products to the foodservice, retail, and export markets. The company is family-owned and operated and based out of Rose Hill, North Carolina with additional facilities in Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina, and South Carolina. FLOCK is an independent nonprofit organization started by the families behind House of Raeford Farms. FLOCK provides tools and resources to mission-driven organizations focusing on youth development, hunger relief, and addiction recovery.