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"How could any charity be more important to me than the Minneapolis Medical Research Foundation (MMRF)?" said Janet Snyder. "My life was saved at Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC). I know the good care I received was brought about through MMRF research."

Janet Snyder knows first-hand the life saving benefits of improving patient care through medical research. Jim and Janet Snyder had everything going for them in 1988 - several thriving drug stores, a beautiful home in Edina, their health, and a successful marriage of 24 years.

But how quickly things can change. The evening of October 23, 1988, the Snyders were driving to a restaurant for dinner when a van crossed the median strip and hit them head-on. Jim was killed instantly, as was the van's driver, who later was reported to have had a blood alcohol level twice the legal limit. It took firefighters 45 minutes to extricate Janet from the wreckage. "Our four-door sedan ended up being about two feet long," she remembers. She was rushed to Hennepin County Medical Center where she was in critical condition with numerous broken bones, brain and spinal cord injuries. She also suffered a skull fracture and extensive nerve injuries that caused facial paralysis, which limited her ability to swallow, move her tongue, talk and open and close her right eye. Snyder remained in the surgical intensive care unit for a month and was in a coma for five weeks.

"I came to one day, and though I was still dazed and confused, I realized I couldn't move a muscle," she remembers. "I couldn't quite comprehend everything that had happened to me - the loss of my husband, my ability to work, and my health, all in one split second."

Two months after the accident, Snyder was transferred to HCMC's Knapp Rehabilitation Center. She remained there for five months (the average length of stay for trauma patients is 18 days).

"The most important thing in my life during that time was the excellent care I received," says Snyder. "I had very good doctors, nurses, and therapists who did a wonderful job for me at HCMC and at Knapp. I tell people that the day of my accident was my second birthday and the gift I was given was my life."

Snyder felt it was only natural to give a gift of her own when she was approached last year about contributing to the Golden Hour Gala, the celebration of HCMC's tenth year as a Level 1 trauma center. She became a Platinum Sponsor and, in addition, convinced her mother-in-law to become a Gold sponsor.

"I called her and told her that whatever she was giving me for my birthday and Hanukkah, she should give to the MMRF," said Jan. "She added quite a bit to my usual gift to become a Gold sponsor which I thought was very sweet. I know she was impressed by the level of care I received at HCMC because she told me that had the accident happened in Los Angeles where she lived, she didn't think my life would have been saved."

Snyder plans to continue her support of the MMRF and is grateful to be alive and have the opportunity to give back. "All in all, I've been very blessed and I'm thankful for the good life and the wonderful husband I had," says Snyder. "We were very happy, so it's sad to have to go on alone, but I think I was saved because my work here isn't done."

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