Mandy Coleman

Mandy Coleman: Hope is what drives every family that comes to TIRR, but progress can be fragile. Kristina Guilbeau remembers telling doctors her goals for her sister, Mandy, after they first arrived at the rehab hospital: She also hoped that her sister would learn to walk and talk again. That she would be able to sing along to her favorite Taylor Swift songs. Eventually, she believed Mandy would leave the hospital and go to work as a realtor, just like she'd planned. That was three years ago. "Looking back," Kristina said, "I know that I was naive." Mandy, now 32, had likely fallen asleep while driving in August 2014 before she careened off an overpass in Northwest Houston. She wasn't wearing a seat belt, and her body was tossed through the windshield. She was fortunate to have landed on grass, and that a jogger came along less than an hour later. Her family sobbed in the waiting room the next day when a neurosurgeon at Ben Taub Hospital told them the damage to Mandy's brain was so widespread, she would never recover. Kristina fell to the floor crying. Hours later, she made a pact with her parents and her youngest sister: They were going to do whatever it took to bring Mandy back.