There are times everyone goes through where they feel like they can’t go on. Life will throw some terrible event or circumstances at you that will make you want to give up. To put it simply, life just isn’t fair.
But while the situations you find yourself in are sometimes beyond your control, you always have a choice in how you react. When one teenager faced an impossibly difficult situation, she would demonstrate how one can persist and thrive, despite the odds…
When Maggie gave advice on how to address adversity in life, she had a straightforward philosophy. “It’s the new normal. Your life is never the same,” she said. “The change does not have to be a negative change. It is how you deal with it.”
Not a Platitude
Unlike many of the platitudes we come across that try to tell us how to live our lives but are ultimately aren’t grounded in reality, everything Maggie has to say on the subject comes from her own uncommon life experiences. Her words have weight because she lived through worse than what most of us will ever have to deal with…
Maggie was a typical sophomore attending Galion High School, just 3 months shy of her 16th birthday. The Ohio teen had recently joined her school’s cross-country team and quickly found that running was one of her favorite things to do.
On a Friday in September, Maggie was out in the early morning fresh air. She was running with a group of her teammates for cross-country practice when an unexpected leg cramp forced her to stop running. While her teammates continued on with their practice, Maggie began walking back to school alone, listening to her headphones…
Unknown to Maggie, there was someone watching her as she made her walk alone. She had no warning whatsoever when she felt a hand grab her from behind and pull hard. When she turned to face the person, she found herself looking into the face of a man named Charles Vaughan.
Vaughan was a 21-year-old who didn’t live too far away from Maggie’s Galion home. Perhaps he had seen and taken a fondness to Maggie some time before. Now that he’d spotted her alone, he viciously decided to take advantage of the opportunity…
Don’t Make A Sound
Armed with a knife and a gun, Vaughan forced Maggie Maloy off the road and into an isolated field not that far from her home. He warned her against making any noise and then, over an excruciatingly long period of time, Vaughan sexually assaulted Maggie twice.
Thinking Out Loud
After he’d had his way with her, Vaughan further terrorized Maggie by debating aloud whether or not he would shoot her. Ultimately, he decided that she would be able to describe him to police, so he took aim with his gun and fired 5 rounds into Maggie’s body…
After Vaughan left the teenager for dead, Maggie lay there with tears streaming out of her eyes and blood streaming out of her wounds, she began to question her mortality. “I didn’t know what side I’d be on when the day was over — whether I’d be here in the flesh or home in heaven,” she said.
Hoping for Death
As Maggie lay there wondering about when the last time she told her mother that she loved her was, she found herself completely unable to move. At times she thought she would die and sometimes even wished for it to happen. It would be hours before people realized she was missing and the search for her began…
Don’t Find Me
When they realized she was missing, Maggie’s family and the local police began searching for her. At one point as Maggie lay motionless in the field, she heard her mother Linda calling for her. “She prayed that her mother wouldn’t find her,” said Crawford County Prosecutor Matt Crall. “She was worried that she would be shot.”
Brink of Death
The search party eventually found Maggie, soaked in her own blood and covered in brush. When she was rushed to the hospital for treatment, doctor’s discovered that her right arm was paralyzed. They were able to remove 2 of the 5 bullets but the other 3 would find permanent homes inside her, 2 in her lungs and 1 in her jaw. From the moment the attack began, Maggie never lost consciousness…
Throw Away the Key
Police were also working quickly to bring in Maggie’s attacker. Less than 8 hours after the initial attack, they were able to track down Vaughan and arrest him, charging him with kidnapping, rape, and attempted aggravated murder. Vaughan would eventually be convicted and sentenced to 15 to 100 years in prison for his crimes.
After the attack, Maggie spent the next 13 days in the hospital, 6 weeks out of school, and going back and forth between wanting to live and wanting to die. “The 15-year-old vibrant, happy-go-lucky girl I had been was hovering inside the shell I had become,” she said. The life I had known was over…
But Maggie kept fighting, largely because of her mother’s unceasing love and support. “Death wouldn’t come to the door, no matter how much I pleaded mentally,” Maggie said. Her mother “saw death on the surface, but she empowered the light from within.”
Snap, Crackle, Pop
With her mother’s help, and her religious faith Maggie not only survived, she began living again. She was back to running by the springtime, carrying the three bullets — which she’d named “Snap,” “Crackle,” and “Pop,” inside of her. She would go on to graduate high school and attend Defiance College, where she would again have to face significant adversity…
On a February day while she was driving from her dorm to a department store, Maggie lost control of her vehicle on an icy roadway. Drifting across lanes, her car was struck on the driver’s side by an oncoming van, giving Maggie a concussion as her head smashed into her window and also shattered her pelvis.
Laugh About It
When she awoke, the first thing she saw was the cracked window of her car. “I thought, ‘That wasn’t there when I left the dorms,’” she would later joke. “I just wanted to go to Kmart. Maggie had to leave school and stop running to return home for months of rehabilitation…
Back At It
Never one to give up, Maggie returned to Defiance college that summer to take make-up classes so she could graduate on time. She also went back to running as soon as she was physically able. “She ended up having a better year, running faster than she ever had, despite all of it,” said her coach.
Since her graduation Maggie began traveling the country sharing her story to anyone it will help and working as a victim’s advocate, working primarily with individuals affected by domestic violence and was recruited by the Department of Justice to create a survival guide for children returning home after surviving abduction. Her words to one audience perfectly sum up her experience: “It really is a privilege to be here — and to be alive.”