BINGHAMTON, N.Y. (WIVT/WBGH) – For seven weeks earlier this year, the entire Sidney community, and many more people from around the region, prayed for the recovery of 14-year-old Anielle McEwan-Lomnicki.
AK, as she’s affectionately known, was in a Syracuse hospital with a serious head injury from being struck by a drunk driver while walking home from school.
She credits the power of prayer and determination as she seeks to get her basketball career back on track.
AK and her father Rich are at the Bulldogs Sports Complex in the Town of Union where she spent part of the summer as a basketball camp volunteer counselor. She says she’s still trying to come to terms with all of the attention she’s received.
“Really, I’m just a kid from Sidney that got hit by a drunk driver. But I’m really just so blessed. I couldn’t ask for anything more, I’m so blessed,” said McEwan-Lomnicki
She was in Greater Binghamton for a physical therapy appointment as the ACL in her right knee was blown out in the crash. She’s says her recovery is going very well.
“I’m doing really good. Right now, I’m on hold from basketball. But, for the most part, I’m doing pretty good. School is going good, I’m still in the basketball community doing stuff, so I’m doing pretty good,” said McEwan-Lomnicki.
When she was in a coma, doctors told her parents that she’d be lucky if she could someday wiggle her toes or squeeze her hand. Although much better now, she still has trouble with her short-term memory.
“I have a traumatic brain injury. I’ll always have that for the rest of my life. But I can’t really notice anything. Like, maybe if you’ve known me my whole life, you’ll notice something. But I don’t notice anything,” said McEwan-Lomnicki
During the weeks she was in the hospital, tributes to her spread throughout Sidney. AK says she’s learned that positivity is contagious.
“When I got home, I was like, oh this is a cool dream. I thought I was dreaming. And of course, I was so grateful. But I just thought I was dreaming. How can somebody like me get all of this? It has to be a dream. But it’s just spreading positivity. It’s just being kind to everybody,” said McEwan-Lomnicki
AK first started playing basketball in 2nd grade and it quickly became a hobby and then a passion. Her goal is to get back on the court in time to play point guard for the Sidney High School team.
“I’ll most likely be on varsity, it’s a maybe right now. It’s a maybe, I don’t want to expose anything, it’s a maybe, everything’s a maybe,” said McEwan-Lomnicki
After that, more travel basketball in the Spring. Last month, Courtni Baker was sentenced to 4 to 12 years in prison for Aggravated Vehicular Assault. AK says she’s especially grateful to Acting Delaware County District Attorney Shawn Smith for his work prosecuting the case. She plans to serve as a team manager for the Binghamton Bulldogs this coming season.
“If you love life, you love it and no matter what, you’re going to fight. No matter what, you’re going to fight. I’m really determined myself, so I push myself really hard. I think that could be one of the reasons. Of course, all the prayers, that’s the biggest thing. Without the prayers, I wouldn’t be here today,” said McEwan-Lomnicki.
AK says her message to others is that hard work and determination, along with prayers and positivity can get you through life’s biggest challenges.
AK is hosting a free, 3 on 3 basketball tournament at the Binghamton Bulldogs’ Sports Complex on November 11th to support #AKStrong. The tournament starts at 11 a.m.