March 20 • 06:15 AM

'Almont is awesome'

Teri Kopp credits community for helping family during tough times

June 24, 2009
ALMONT — It's been quite a year for Teri Kopp and her family.

In the past 11 months she's dealt with some of life's toughest challenges—a daughter's severe car accident; the loss of her mother; the deployment of her 41-year-old husband. But those challenges have led her to some of life's sweetest moments—recovery, healing, and the kindness and generosity of the community she lives in.

Last July, Teri's daughter Karla, then 19, was seriously injured in a four vehicle accident on M-53 just north of Bordman Road. She and her beloved Doberman Sarge were on their way home to Almont when the crash occurred. Karla's vehicle collided with a tanker truck and two other vehicles, and her injuries were so severe that she was airlifted from the scene.

While undergoing surgery for multiple problems—including a massive head injury and broken bones— community members launched an all out search for Sarge. Led by dog groomer and animal advocate Paula Alfonsi, the volunteers were hoping to give Karla some good news while she recovered in the hospital.

Unfortunately, Sarge was found a few days later lying in a field where he perished.

While Karla worked her way down the road to recovery, Teri in December learned that she lost her job when the company she worked for closed its doors.

Three months later her mom, Donna Anderson, passed away at the age of 75. Five weeks earlier she'd been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, so Teri was focused on taking care of her mom when she learned that her husband would be shipped off to Afghanistan on April 7.

A healthy, recovered Karla Kopp poses with new Doberman ‘Nala.’
Andrew, 41, is a staff sergeant in the 464th Quarter Master Company out of Lapeer. It's his first deployment and though she's worried for his safety, Teri says she's very proud.

Up until then, Andrew worked at Takata in Armada, where his job in airbag testing is on hold.

The family has faced a lot of turmoil in recent months, Teri admits, but like seeing diamonds in charcoal dust she's found strength in the community she calls home.

Counting blessings

Despite the initial prognosis—and against many odds—Karla has made almost a full recovery.

"She's almost 100 percent," Teri says. "The doctor said she shouldn't be walking, she shouldn't have walked away from this, so she definitely has somebody on her side."

Maybe many somebodies, Teri says.

"The people who came to see Karly and sent cards and flowers, oh my goodness there were so many," Teri says. "I never really got a chance to thank the people involved. If it wasn't for this community her recovery wouldn't have been as quick or as wonderful as it has been."

Community concern also led the family to a new Doberman which they dearly love.

"Thanks to the community who found Sarge when we were in the hospital with Karla we were able to get that closure," Karla says.

They ended up adopting 'Nala,' who also wasn't in the best of situations.

"She needed us as much as we needed her," Teri says. "She's awesome. We say Sarge sent her to us."

As for the loss of her mother, Teri says she received a lot of support, and the family's focus was on Mrs. Anderson, not on Andrew's pending deployment—which was a blessing in a way.

A husband in Afghanistan and the loss of a job doesn't dissuade Teri from seeing more blessings. She looks for the positive.

"We miss him but so far, so good," she says. "As for the income there's been some adjustment but I find that just being home I save money that day. Life isn't quite as hectic and I am able to do a lot more with our son Derek, who's going to be a junior at Almont High School."

She and Andrew talk on the phone at least once a week, and he tries to email whenever he has access to a computer.

Teri says all of these life changes wouldn't be as easy to deal with if it weren't for the people of Almont.

"I just want to send a big thank you to the community," she says. "The community and so much support played a major role in Karly's quick recovery and miracle.

"Almont is an awesome town," she continues. "EMS, the fire department, police, everybody is just amazing. People got involved and I just can't thank them enough. They're all angels to us."

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