Brittni Falkenberg is one tough girl.
At 14 years old, the Dawson County High School freshman has felt more physical pain than most will endure in a lifetime.
Falkenberg was involved in a 2008 accident that took her scalp, an ear and broke her nose all in a matter of seconds.
But she’s on the road to recovery now, and she shared her story of recuperation Jan. 26 at the annual Safe Kids Awards Breakfast in Atlanta, put on by Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.
Organizers invited Falkenberg to be a special guest and speaker at the event, which honors organizations dedicated to keeping kids safe from accidental injuries.
In a Feb. 3 interview, Falkenberg said her speech at the awards breakfast marked the first time she’s shared the story with a large group.
“I’ve talked to friends and family about my accident, but not in a 350-person venue,” she said.
In June 2008, she was working with her grandfather. They sold fresh corn meal from a trailer to passersby on Ga. 400, which raised dollars for her future college expenses.
“It was a really pretty day,” she said. “The wind was blowing and the mill was running. It grinds corn into corn meal to make cornbread and muffins ... someone was buying corn meal, and I dropped a check they handed me.
“The mill on the trailer was running. I had extremely long hair, dark brown, and when I bent down to get the check and stood back up, my hair got caught in the mill,” she said.
She was rushed to Egleston in a medical helicopter, and spent the next three months in recovery.
Her grandmother, Carol Stowers, said it’s a day that is etched upon her memory.
“She lost a tremendous amount of blood,” Stowers said. “It’s been a long haul since the accident. We still have more surgeries to go through.”
Health issues that followed the accident kept her out of public school for about a year. Stowers, however, became Falkenberg’s home school teacher and helped her continue her education.
“I always thought home school would be fun, because I figured you could sleep in and take it easy, but it’s really tough. You have to work really hard,” Falkenberg said.
She’s back in the classroom now and is liking her first year in high school.
“High school’s good, but it’s a lot different than middle school,” she said, laughing. “I’m enjoying it.”