Young mother left paralyzed in hit-and-run accident is now driving again

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Tanisha Harris is back behind the wheel, and loving every minute of it.

"I don't have to wait on nobody," Harris says.  "I don't have to depend on nobody to take me somewhere."

It's been nearly two years since we first introduced you to this 28-year old single mother of two, 3 years since a hit and run driver changed her life.

"I just remember turning and then I blanked out," Harris says, talking about the accident.

She and her cousin, who was behind the wheel, were out running errands when another driver slammed into them from behind.

"I don't remember the hit," Harris says. "I don't remember saying anything.  I woke up in the ambulance."

Harris was numb from her chest down.  She had suffered a devastating spinal cord injury.

"When something like this happens, it's a reality check," she says.  "It's real."

So, getting behind the wheel again has not been an easy ride.

Tanisha had to pass a driving test at Shepherd Center, then another at the DMV, capping of months of work with Next Step paralysis recovery specialist Tony Davenport.

"It's imperative that the person driving has a decent amount of range of motion that is expected," Davenport says.  "So, that's it is going to be safe for them to manipulate the vehicle."

If getting behind the wheel was tough, getting back on her feet was even harder.

"She has a C6 spinal injury," Davenport explains. "She was told she wouldn't walk again."

Tanisha Harris is determined to defy the odds, but every step requires intense concentration, as she tries to will her paralyzed muscles to move.

"Relearning how to walk, it's not easy," she says.  "It's really hard.  But, nothing worth having comes easily. So, I have to work through it."

Watching her session with Davenport are 7-year old Nia'lah and 10-year Khalea.

Nia'lah was just 4 when her mother was injured, and Harris knows her children are taking their cues from her.

"We love her, and she's doing good on her walking," Nia'lah Harris says. "We help her walk and stand up."

Across town, at Shepherd Center in Buckhead, Tanisha is learning how to swim, for the first time in her life.

 In the weightlessness of the water in the pool, she can move with ease, even stand up.  

There was a time, Harris says, she felt self-conscious about being paralyzed,

"Now, I have a whole different outlook," she says.  "I know my ability. I know what I'm capable of."

She will keep pushing herself, she says.

"Because I'm steadily beating the odds, and I'm steadily seeing progress," Harris says.

Next month will be the third anniversary of the accident.

But Tanisha Harris isn't looking back.  

She's focusing everything she has on the future.

"I'm feeling great," she smiles.  "I'm feeling good."