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After Life-Changing Accident, 11-Year-Old Adjusts With Grace

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(credit: CBS) John Lauritsen
John Lauritsen is a reporter from Montevideo, Minn. He joined WCCO-...
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WESTBROOK, Minn. (WCCO) – At Westbrook-Walnut Grove Middle School, the dominant game of choice for 6th graders is lightning, and the dominant player is often 11-year-old Kate Jorgenson.

“I like basketball and volleyball, but I like basketball a little bit better,” Kate said.

It’s all pretty remarkable considering Kate is playing against her classmates with just one arm.

“She is just full of spirit and life and determination. Never, ever let’s anything slow her down,” said Kate’s dad, Jim Jorgenson.

For Kate, it’s always been that way – even on a fateful summer afternoon that would change her life forever.

“It was June 17, and the kids were out picking rock like they do on our family farm,” said Kate’s mom, Nikki Jorgenson.

As the ATV Kate was riding in got close to home, it hit loose gravel, flipped and landed on her left arm, severing it.

Her dad was in a grain bin and didn’t see what happened. Kate’s mom rushed her to the hospital and she was airlifted to North Memorial Medical Center in Robbinsdale.

“When I got to the emergency room, Kate said something to me I’ll never forget. She said ‘Dad, I hope you won’t be mad at me.’ And that’s kind of the type of person Kate is,” Jim said.

Doctors were initially able to re-attach her arm, but after two weeks, blood clots and infection took over and a decision was made to amputate.

“The doctor told us, ‘I will do everything I can to re-attach her arm, but I won’t risk losing her life,” Nikki said.

As difficult as this has been on the entire Jorgenson family, Kate has never looked back. As an 11-year-old, she has chosen to accept what happened and to focus on being a kid.

“I wasn’t like really sad, I was just like, ‘Okay, I can live with it still,’ she said.

Her attitude has been contagious. On Thursday night, the Westbrook-Walnut Grove volleyball team held a fundraiser for the Jorgenson family. They called it an “Orange-Out,” as fans wore Kate’s favorite color. And not just the home crowd, but visitors from Southwest United too.

“Somebody’s got a problem, people are more than happy to help out. Hopefully the Jorgensons are finding that out and I think they are,” said Trent Schumacher, whose daughter play for Southwest United.

On this night, fans and players were inspired by a girl who just recently learned to tie her shoes with one hand.

“It’s not the end of the world and you’ll still make it. You’ll still be okay,” Kate said.

She has become the heartbeat of a small town, and the quote on the back of the orange shirts says it all: “Don’t tell me the skies the limit when there are footprints on the moon.”

“I don’t believe she has any boundaries. I really, truly believe that whatever Kate sets her mind to do, she’ll do,” Jim said. “She’ll find a way to do it. It might not be the way you or I would do it, but she’s determined. She will do it.”

A raffle was also held Thursday night to raise money for Kate’s medical bills. Her family wants to thank every single person who has shown their support.

Nikki said there is a good chance she will be fitted for a prosthetic arm within the year.

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