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After paralyzing accident, a rally to raise money for 15-year-old gymnast

Following a training accident that left a Puyallup gymnast with a grave spinal cord injury, Roach Gymnastics is raising money for the girl's medical care.

Jacoby Miles, a 15-year-old competitive gymnast, was practicing on the uneven bars at Roach Gymnastics when a double back dismount went awry. As Miles described it to coach and gym owner Melanie Roach, she became "lost" in midair, losing a sense of her bearings and landing on her neck. She was transported to St. Joseph's in Tacoma, then Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, where she underwent surgery Saturday to correct a dislocated C4 vertebrae.

Injuries to the cervical vertebrae of the neck carry a high risk of compromising diaphragm breathing functions, and at least partial quadriplegia in the long term; an injury to the C4 is associated with a significant loss of function in the biceps and shoulders.

Miles' family has been posting updates on her condition through a Blogspot, "Get Well Jacoby."

Surgeons found the spinal cord had been pinched, but not severed. Miles is presently paralyzed below the mid-chest area, and the hope is that she will regain feeling in her arms while recovering from surgery. A doctor warned her family that regained use of her legs would be in the "miracle category," according to a Nov. 17 post.

Miles is breathing on her own and is able to perform biceps curls and shrug her shoulders, but is unable to put her arms back down, according to a statement by father Jason Miles in the Seattle Times.

Miles is a Level 9 gymnast in the USA Gymnastics system, which includes levels 1-10 and Elite. She's an experienced athlete who had performed on the uneven bars successfully countless times. The injury came as a shock to the gymnasts and staff who witnessed it, and an entry from "Get Well Jacoby" from the morning after the accident read: "Jacoby didn't shed even one tear and was more concerned about her teammates crying than she was for herself."

"I haven't necessarily been coping well," Roach said. "It has been difficult to get up in the morning since the accident happened, and the only thing that has made it possible is fundraising for Jacoby's family."

Roach, a former Olympian weightlifter, released her memoir "Lift: Enjoying the Journey of Life" on Nov. 16. After the accident that day, Roach decided to divert all profits from the book to the Miles family to "aid in Jacoby's recovery and ongoing expenses."

Additionally, a donation website, GoTeamJacoby.com, went online Monday to take donations via PayPal. Roach Gymnastics has already raised more than $10,000 and a donation bank account is in the process of being established, Roach said.

Roach Gymnastics has also set Dec. 17 as the date of a benefit auction, though details on location and time of day won't be announced until later this week. Donations are requested for auction items. Donors can call the gym at 253-826-5999.

Emerald City Gymnastics of Redmond is managing a "Get Well Card Fundraiser," soliciting gymnasts from across the country to make and send get well cards with a minimum of $20 inside. Emerald City's goal is $50,000 by Thanksgiving.

Cards should be sent to:

Team Jacoby Fund
c / o ECGA
17735 NE 65th St. Suite 110
Redmond, WA 98052

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