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By Ethan Fowler, Abilene Reporter-News

The three-week mission trip in 2007 to help with an aunt’s church in Ecuador was supposed to be uneventful.

But Danni McMahan’s expectation of a peaceful religious escape ended when a mountain trail she was hiking made vulnerable by heavy rainfall that summer gave way, and McMahan fell about 200 feet down the mountain near Cuenca.

McMahan broke her back, collarbone, ribs and punctured a lung — requiring an extensive rescue effort. McMahan, who made the trip by herself to the South American country, would spend the next four months in a hospital.

Although McMahan recovered, the accident left her wheelchair-bound. During her senior year at Carlsbad High School in New Mexico, McMahan “blocked out everything” due to the pain she was enduring.

On Saturday, McMahan will be one of 181 students graduating from McMurry University at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Hunt Physical Education Center.

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