A large group of Michaela’s friends and supporters line up in front of the Imlay City Police Station on Thursday afternoon in anticipation of her arrival home after six months of care and rehabilitation.


IMLAY CITY — Having spent nearly six months recovering from the extensive injuries she sustained in a Feb. 8 snowmobile accident, 12-year-old Michaela Wolford is back home.

On Thursday afternoon, hundreds of waving, balloon and sign-carrying friends and community members gathered at locations along Van Dyke to greet Michaela, whose vehicle was escorted by Imlay City police, fire trucks and numerous police units from neighboring communities.

The daughter of veteran Imlay City Police Sgt. Tim Wolford and his wife, Julie, Michaela has made a remarkable recovery since the accident.

For many weeks after, Michaela lay in a coma in critical condition at the Hurley Medical Center in Flint.

After a series of operations, she emerged from her coma and immediately began making incremental strides in her recovery.

Indeed, she was deemed well enough to be released from the Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital in Grand Rapids, where she had spent the past 17 weeks.

Challenges ahead

Prior to Thursday’s “welcome home” celebration, Julie Wolford provided an update on the status of Michaela’s recovery.

“Her progress and

Michaela and her mom, Julie Wolford, wave to the crowds from their vehicle on Thursday. Photo by Lesley Forti.

growth continues to be amazing and her will and determination to succeed is written all over face,” Julie said.

“To think she couldn’t hold her head up on her own and still had a tracheostomy when we arrived (at Mary Free Bed) is mind blowing.

“Therapy is going great and she is walking both with a walker and also with one person at her side,” she continued.

“She loves the challenge and pushes herself to meet new goals daily.”

Julie said Michaela’s fine motor skills have increased tremendously, and that she insists on doing things for herself.

“She is getting better balance, more control and is able to feed herself.

“She is working to consume more liquids orally and swallowing has improved greatly,” she continued.

“Once she can do both the meds and meet her daily liquid goal without the tube, there will be no need for it.

“She has already told the doctor she wants it out and has inquired about how he will take it out.

“Every night she asks to see her schedule for the upcoming day. She likes to stay busy, challenged, and keep us busy playing games when she isn’t in therapy. Air hockey has been a new favorite this week. She can play independently and she likes to win.”


Julie said Michaela continues to communicate primarily through the use of her iPad.

“She voices and we communicate other ways too, but that is our primary tool,” said Julie.

“She continues to gain more motor control of tongue movements and facial muscles.

“She has made vowel sounds and continues to make gains as these motor circuits heal and reroute. She is very positive and works so hard in her speech sessions.”

Julie said Michaela’s recovery and remarkable journey will now continue on at home.

“We are excited to bring her home and reunite as a family under the same roof again, but with this excitement comes anxiousness and fear for the next step.

“Each leg of this journey has brought so many different emotions. The uncharted waters are scary, however, we find strength and courage knowing we will be surrounded and supported by our family and friends.

“The love and support has been amazing,” Julie continued. “Michaela is our sunshine, our miracle. She inspires us and so many to be better, never give up, and to never take things for granted.

“We will all do whatever it takes to continue marching on with our girl as her healing and recovery continue.”

Thanks to all

“Thank you for all the love and prayers. We appreciate each and every one and ask you to keep them coming,” said Julie.

“The mountains Michaela has moved from that horrid day in February is nothing short of a miracle. God’s plan for our girl is unfolding before our eyes, and oh what a plan he has.”

Tom Wearing started at the Tri-City Times in 1989, covering the Village of Capac as a beat reporter. He later served stints as assistant editor and editor. Today, he covers Imlay City and Almont as a staff writer. He enjoys music and plays drums and sings with various musical groups in the Detroit Metropolitan area.