EDITORS NOTE: “Strong Like Sarah” is part of KSL NewsRadio’s Heart of Utah segment that airs weekly on Fridays at 6:45 am and 5:45 p.m.
CLEARFIELD, Utah — Almost six months to the day since a horrific accident, a journey is just beginning for a remarkable young woman from Northern Utah.
Sarah Frei, 17, is on the way to a new future as she helps advocate on Utah’s Capitol Hill.
It was July 30, 2020. Sarah was on the way home from Bear Lake when her car was hit by a suspected drunk driver in Logan Canyon. She was paralyzed below the waist, suffered internal injuries, and had to have her legs amputated. She underwent 20 surgeries and was in the hospital for about three months.
“She was in extremely critical condition, and we heard he was out of jail,” said her mom, Amy Frei. “We thought, how is this possible?”
Working with lawmakers to change the status quo
The Freis worked with State Representative Steve Eliason on a new bill — Sarah’s Bill — that would allow a judge to set harsher bail terms for certain drunk driving suspects.
Last week, HB47 passed the House unanimously and now, it heads to the state Senate.
“It was just beautiful to see the process working the way it should,” said Sarah’s dad, Greg Frei. “It’s been fascinating and just such a blessing.”
This comes as Sarah is still healing and adapting to her new lifestyle.
“ The enormity of the lifestyle change for her is still sinking in for us, so it took a while to really hit us that this is her new life. This is her new path,” Greg explained.
A gift from an idol
That new path is now made easier with a big surprise by the singer of her favorite song, “Home Sweet.”
Country star Russell Dickerson surprised Sarah over Zoom recently with a brand new Chevrolet Traverse, fully wheelchair accessible, allowing her to drive it. She said she was just thrilled to meet him and didn’t even expect such a big gift.
“I started crying. I was freaking out and then he told me that,” said Sarah. ”I’m really excited to start driving it.”
The song pulled her through the long recovery in the hospital, and her high school cheerleading team performed it in her honor. She has been able to perform with them, too.
Strong Like Sarah: ‘I just try to make the most out of every situation’
Sarah is busy cheerleading, remotely finishing her senior year at Clearfield High, learning to drive that new car, speaking at church firesides, and starting an internship next month.
“I got into an internship for elementary school teaching and so I’ll teach at the same elementary school that I went to. And I’m really excited for that,” said Sarah.
She plans to get a degree from Utah State University, with the hopes of teaching second and third grade.
Meanwhile, Sarah’s Instagram account Strong Like Sarah is gaining followers from all around the world.
“She is smiling and laughing and having fun and figuring out a fun way to do things. It’s been amazing to see her take on this challenge,” said Amy Frei.
“I just try to make the most out of every situation because I can’t control what has happened to me,” Sarah said. “I’m not doing much. There’s not like a secret formula. I just am who I am and want to spread positivity.”
Something singer Russell Dickerson saw, too.
“Thank you for the joy,” he told her on that Zoom call. “Keep inspiring people. You are crushing it.”
View this post on Instagram
I have an idea for a future in-depth report. How do I tell you about it?
With all the bad news that is out there, we want to make sure that we're spotlighting all of the good too. If you have a heartwarming story that we need to hear, please reach out! Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are hoping to reach a specific member of our team, you can also contact them directly through our bios, here.