Former Chugiak star Clifford injured in accident in Hawaii

August 24, 2016

Lorrie Clifford rubgy

Lorrie Clifford

With an awesome athletic resume that has stretched a decade and included a stint on this year’s Team USA women’s rugby team, Lorrie Clifford of Eagle River had an aura of invincibility.

But even our strongest people are vulnerable to accidents.

Clifford, 25, was involved in a violent vehicle accident over the weekend in Hawaii and is now in an intensive care unit at a Honolulu hospital.

“Her C4 and C5 vertebrae were fractured in a vehicle collision, and are now placing a dangerous pressure on her spinal cord. Her years of hard work and training are ultimately the reason she survived,” her family wrote on Clifford’s GoFundMe page.

“Lorrie has a passion for life. She is strong, independent, humble, beautiful and determined. She has a drive that has pushed her through challenges most people wouldn’t have the willpower to overcome,” her family wrote. “Her body truly is her temple, and she has utilized sports and physical activity as a coping mechanism her whole life. This is her gift. She has accomplished more in her 25 years than most will in a lifetime.

“But the thing is, she was meant to accomplish so much more.”

Clifford, of Chugiak High fame, played a key role in helping Team USA rugby qualify for the Olympics. She started many of the matches the team played in qualifying tournaments, and even scored points, but was left off the final roster that went to Rio Games in Brazil.

She has been a member of the national rugby team since 2013 after wrapping up her college basketball career at Western Oregon University, where she was a four-year starting guard from 2009 to 2013. Before that she was an all-conference flag football and basketball player for the Chugiak Mustangs.

Clifford will soon be moved to a long-term treatment facility.

“In time we are hoping there, she will be able to recover some feeling and movement throughout her body, and be able to continue doing what she loves, and spreading her gift,” her family wrote. “Lorrie’s passion shines through her and lights up our entire family. She is an inspiration to every life she touches, and deserves every opportunity to continue to do so. She has quite the journey behind her, and an even longer one in front. She is a blessing to our family and to everyone in her world, and any contribution to her recovery is appreciated.”

In 24 hours, Clifford’s campaign raised more than $7,000 from 70 personal contributions.