• 77°

Kim Lunsford’s life had

impact on community

By JAINE TREADWELL

Features Editor

Nineteen years and four months after an automobile accident that left her a quadriplegic, Kim Lunsford was made whole again.

Kim, 39,

died at her home Wednesday morning and, when the time came, she was ready, said her uncle, Jimmy Lunsford.

"Kim had decided that she was ready – not from a depressed state, but from a joyous state. She knew that she could be whole again," Lunsford said. "She was ready to go and be with the Lord."

Kim was injured in a two-vehicle accident Feb. 19, 1982 en route to a fraternity social in Eufaula. Her friend, Carol Kirkland of Brewton, was pronounced dead at the scene.

"Actually, Kim should have died, too," Lunsford said. "Her spinal cord was severed at the first and second vertebrae, preventing her from breathing. A paramedic happened on the scene and gave her mouth-to-mouth until the ambulance arrived. Kim believed, and so did her family, that God had a purpose for her life."

Kim’s strong belief in God’s purpose for her and her deep faith gave her strength and hope.

Although she was a quadriplegic and spoke with the aid of a mechanical device, she was an inspiration to people, young and old, as she went about speaking at churches and giving her testimony of faith.

She often spoke of her belief that someday she would be made whole again.

"Maybe Kim’s belief was in a physical wholeness, but I believe she was speaking

of today," Lunsford said. "Today she is whole again."

Kim Lunsford did not leave this world without having made it a better place and those around her better people for having known her.

"Kim thought she had done all she could do here on earth and she had done so much," Lunsford said. "But nothing she ever did was for herself. What she did was always done with thoughts and concern for someone else."

Kim developed the Handicapable Challenge program which was funded

by the Division of Disabilities in Washington D.C. and headed by Jim Brady.

The Handicapable Challenge was a program Kim designed to involve handicapped students in the mainstream of life.

Kim and Cheryl Matney worked with Troy State students who would commit time to handicapped students in the county.

"The college students would go out and pick up handicapped children and take them to movies and other outings so they could have experiences and opportunities like other children their ages," Lunsford said. "These children learned they were handicapable, not handicapped."

What Kim did with the program was well-known and greatly appreciated, not just in Pike County, but all across the country.

A business trip took Lunsford to Washington and he had the occasion to meet Jim Brady in his office.

"Jim Brady called in his staff from both floors and introduced me as Kim Lunsford’s uncle," Lunsford said. "Then, we sat there, Jim Brady and I, and talked for two hours about the wonderful work she was doing. In my years as mayor, I have never had a prouder or more important opportunity than that."

Kim also wrote a book about faith and how young people should live their lives. She distributed the book wherever she was invited to give her testimony and it had such an impact on those who read it that it was reprinted four times. She gladly accepted the challenge to minister to others.

Kim also designed the first website for the City of Troy from her bed. She found purpose in life as it was dealt to her and she never lost faith in God. Perhaps, that is why He allowed her to be the longest survivor to date on a lung pacemaker.

"God did have a purpose for Kim and I don’t believe she disappointed Him," Lunsford said.

Many people will have wonderful memories of Kim Lunsford because she impacted the lives of so many.

Her uncle remembers her as someone so full of life, not only before the accident, but after it.

"The night of the accident I rode to Dothan with Foy and Jean," Lunsford said. "I remember Jean prayerfully said, ‘God, if you’ll let her live, I’ll look after her.’ God let her live and Kim made her life a blessing. Jean looked after Kim like she promised. She never left her side. But, now that Kim has fulfilled God’s purpose for her on earth, she is in His care."