Karen Helms Miracle
MOUNT OLIVE – While finishing up a twelve-mile bicycle ride one night, Karen Helms was hit by a car approximately a half mile from home. She was air lifted to Pitt Community Hospital, died twice, and considered brain dead. With her family by her side, the doctor advised them to prepare for the worse. Instead, in August, she will graduate from University of Mount Olive with a degree in Criminal Justice.
Remarkably, Helms only spent two weeks in the hospital and has suffered no long term effects from the accident. “I did not lose any memory…I can walk, talk, and function just as I did before the wreck, as if nothing ever happened.” As she laid in the hospital bed unconscious, her mother and husband told her to breathe and to keep fighting. Her mother read her Jeremiah 29:11: one of her favorite scriptures.
“I had to go to rehab for one day, to ensure I had no long lasting effects…I told them I was fine and they were wasting their time. After one hour, they agreed and let me go.”
A deputy clerk in the Wayne County courthouse, Helms was inspired to pursue her degree in Criminal Justice by the judges and assistant district attorneys she works with. “They showed me how the criminal justice system worked. They explained to me laws, and why they chose the sentences they gave defendants; they made criminal justice very interesting. As a result, I became more interested in criminal justice and wanted to learn more.”
Helms credits University of Mount Olive with transforming her life and making the dream of earning a degree a reality. “Despite my age, or the years I have been out of school, they worked with me to achieve my goals…all in one night a week!” Although she doesn’t have any concrete plans for the future, she enjoys the days she has. “Life is really short! I learned to live my life, now, to the fullest.” She says that she’s stopped worrying about the small things and tries to tell her family she loves them every day. The sun rising, the sun setting, freedom and health are things she says she pays more attention to now.
Helms offers advice to other adults who are considering going back to college. “Go for it! The staff and professors at University of Mount Olive will work with you. Going back to college teaches you so much and opens up so many opportunities.” Her education has helped her to have a better understanding of the rights of defendants, due process, other criminal justice procedures, and will even allow her to work in Federal Court one day.
Helms has no hard feelings for the driver who was in the accident with her. “Forgiveness is a great gift.” She reached out to them, and when they wrote back, they included a coin with an angel on it. She keeps it in her car at all times. “I try to live my life according to a quote from Erma Bombeck, ‘When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say I used everything you gave me.”
University of Mount Olive is a private institution rooted in the liberal arts tradition with defining Christian values. The College, sponsored by the Convention of Original Free Will Baptists, has locations in Mount Olive, New Bern, Wilmington, Goldsboro, Research Triangle Park, Washington and Jacksonville. For more information, visit www.moc.edu.