In 2010, Rachelle Friedman Chapman was paralyzed from the chest down just weeks before her wedding. Determined not to let the setback keep her from enjoying life, Rachelle went on to have a daughter through surrogate, and these days, she works as a speaker, author, motivator, and leader, and has shared her story with multiple national and international news outlets across the country. The inspirational mother spreads a message of positivity, love, loyalty, commitment, and perseverance, and tonight, she will share her story of becoming a mother in the face of adversity on a new TLC show titled “Rattled: A Paralyzed Mother’s Story.”
Read on to learn more about Rachelle Friedman.
1. She Was Paralyzed at Her Bachelorette Party in 2010
On May 23, 2010, Rachelle Friedman was celebrating her bachelorette party just days before her wedding. Her best friend playfully pushed her into the pool during a midnight swim, and Rachelle hit the bottom head first. Her neck broke, and she suffered a severe spinal cord injury.
Rachelle was 25 at the time. Speaking with ABC News after the accident, Chapman said, “It all happened very quickly. We got home, ran upstairs and changed into our bathing suits. My best friend… playfully pushed me in like we’ve done a million times.”
Chapman says she instantly couldn’t move, but weirdly did not panic. “… I kind of knew exactly what happened and I floated up to the surface and said, ‘Help!’ and then my friends called 9-1-1.”
2. The TLC Show Will Document Rachelle and Her Husband’s Path to Parenthood
TLC’s new series Rattled: A Paralyzed Mother’s Story will focus on Rachelle, 31, and Chris’s, 34, path to parenthood, and how they defied the odds by welcoming a baby in May 2015. The show was filmed at the couple’s home in Knightdale North Carolina, and extends from the time of Rachelle’s baby shower to when her daughter, Kaylee, turned one.
Speaking to People last week, Chapman said, “The show will definitely take you on an emotional roller coaster… There are going to be some funny parts and sometimes when I get emotional.” She later added on, “I really want people to see what a quadriplegic is capable of. I think the world has very little knowledge about spinal cord injuries and I’m looking to change that… We have so much more to offer than people might think. I have seen people commenting in articles calling me selfish for wanting to be a mother. But people will see in the show that our system works and that my daughter is going to have the most beautiful fulfilling life.”
3. She Says She Will Never Publicly Name the Friend Who Caused Her Paralysis
This series marks the first time Rachelle has spoken to cameras about the friend who pushed her into the pool seven years ago. In 2016, she told People that though she and the unnamed friend remained very close after the accident, she eventually had to end the friendship.
In the beginning, she was there for me and I was there for her. She was distraught and depressed about what happened. But as the years passed, she didn’t make the effort, it was just going through the motions and every time we spoke, I just felt like I was remembering the accident and going into the pool and I had negative feelings. I didn’t feel that way in the beginning, but that’s what’s been happening over the last three years.
Despite this fact, Rachelle has remained protective of the woman, refusing to name her publicly– and she still won’t. She tells People, “One of the things that happens when you have this kind of injury is that you lose people, and I felt like I wasn’t being truthful anymore because I did lose some relationships. It’s sad and it’s complicated, but she wasn’t there for me when I needed her.”
In a 2014 blog for the Huffington Post titled “Why I’ll Never Publicly Name the Friend Who Caused My Paralysis”, Rachel says that the night she became paralyzed, she and the four friends at her four bridesmaids agreed to never reveal the name of the person who pushed her. Rachelle highlights that her friend had innocent intentions, and acknowledges how the situation could have happened to anyone. “But the truth is: I’ve pushed her in the pool dozens of times. How easily could our roles have been reversed?” she says.
4. Her Surrogate Is Her Friend From College
Rachelle’s surrogate is her friend from college, Lauren Humes.
Last year, Humes told People, “We did the hospital tour together. Rachelle and Chris even recorded their voices reading stories and other things and I play it for the baby at night using the belly buds Rachelle bought me so [the baby] can hear her parents’ voices.”
5. She Met Her Husband at a Halloween Party at East Carolina University
Chapman met her husband, Chris, at a Halloween party at East Carolina University. Because of the accident, her honeymoon and wedding were postponed for more than a year.
After the accident, Chris told WRAL.com, “Nothing surprises me with Rach. Ever since her injury, she has been the positive driving force for everything.”