"I just kept thinking that it felt like old times," said Katie Vree

It was almost nine years ago when Katie Vree, of Palos Heights, Illinois, came down with a spinal virus on a high school mission trip to an orphanage in Guatemala and was left paralyzed from the waist down at age 17.

But since those dark days after the accident, Vree — now 25, according to MLive — has made a drastic recovery.

After weeks at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, Florida, and then Comers Children’s Hospital, according to a Facebook group dedicated to her recovery, she was transferred to the Rehab Institute of Chicago, where she began therapy to regain movement.

And on Friday, July 19, Vree was able to water ski across Reeds Lake in Grand Rapids, Michigan, during the Mary Free Bed Adaptive Water Ski Clinic.

“I was just hoping I wouldn’t tip over,” she told MLive. “I just kept thinking that it felt like old times.”

Vree also spoke to FOX affiliate KCPQ and said that she was nervous “because obviously I can’t swim, but the staff was amazing, so it felt like old times.”

MLive reports that the Adaptive Water Ski Clinic “typically includes about 20 participants at the annual event on Reeds Lake” and allows “cognitively or physically impaired participants an opportunity to explore a variety of sports or activities with the help of special equipment.”

Katie Vree
Katie Vree

Vree told MLive that she doesn’t “really know what happened to me” on the mission trip and that she “went from being perfectly healthy to becoming really sick.”

Her father, Dan, who posted an update on the Facebook page back in 2016, said that Vree “suffered a spinal stroke/transverse myelitis” that led to her being paralyzed.

According to MLive, it was through one of Vree’s friends, Alex Moran — and an organization she started called Boundless Bus — that helped Vree get from Illinois to the Chicago area for the event.

“I am committing to helping 30 other people accomplish something on their bucket list before August 17th, 2019 (my 30th birthday)”, Moran wrote on Facebook. “That’s 30 people in 3 months. Join me in this adventure and let’s change the world, one story at a time.”

After Vree was able to water ski, Moran added: “So so honored to have been a part of making this dream come true for Katie; even more honored to play a small role in sharing her story with the world. Her positivity, her strength, and her lust for life. This young woman is going to change lives and inspire so many.