It could take up to a year before Holly Springs police officer Shane Ladner and wife Meg Ladner's lives return to normal.
That's according to long-time friend Julie Cassidy, who has been by the couple's side since they were seriously injured in a train accident earlier this month in Texas.
Meg Ladner, Cassidy said, underwent surgery on Monday to make repairs to her pelvis, hip, and her leg.
"The good news is there is no brain damage and all her vital organs are working," she added. "She’s a fighter."
Cassidy said Meg Ladner's recovery will take at least a year. She noted she will stay at Atlanta Medical Center for another three months and will undergo rehabilitative therapy at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta for an additional nine months.
Shane Ladner, who Cassidy said is walking with a cane, also needs to have back surgery, but noted he wants to wait until his wife is out of surgery before going under the knife.
Cassidy and friends are organizing two fundraisers next month to help the Ladners.
The pancake breakfasts will start at 7:30 a.m. Dec. 1 and Dec. 8 at Longhorn Steakhouse at 2700 Town Center Drive in Kennesaw, which is where Cassidy said she and Meg Ladner met when they both worked at the restaurant 20 years ago. A $20 donation is requested for those who attend the event, which will also include a silent auction.
Cassidy said she has been "overwhelmed" at the amount of support friends have received to help the Ladners get back on their feet. She said she's had a wide range of complimentary services offered for the couple, and she noted The Home Depot has also signed on to help the family.
"Shane is so overwhelmed and appreciative as well," she said. "Our community is amazing. I’m proud to be an American."
She also said the city of Holly Springs has also been unwavering in its support for the couple.
Holly Springs Police Spokesperson Lt. Tanya Anderson added the city "is supporting them anyway we can through the fundraisers put on by friends to ensuring immediate personal needs are addressed."
A Facebook page, Prayers For Shane and Meg Ladner, has also been set up so friends and family can keep track of the Ladner's recovery. The page has around 1,400 people following the page for updates.
Friends and family would like to collect money to purchase a van for the Ladners and to possibly get enough funds to help them purchase a ranch-style home. The Ladners' current home, Cassidy said, is a split level home that sits on a hill and renovating the home to accommodate Meg Ladner's wheelchair is "almost impossible."
She added the current front door frame would have to be extended by at least four feet.
The Ladners last week flew back to Atlanta from Midland, Texas, where they were recovering from injuries sustained when a train collided with the parade float they were riding in during the annual "Hunt for Heroes" event coordinated by Show of Support. Ladner was treated for back injuries he received from the accident while his wife had to have her left leg amputated.
The Holly Springs officer was chosen by the nonprofit organization to participate in the event and was also recognized for his military service after he was wounded in combat while on duty in Iraq.
A veteran of the United States Army, he was wounded twice in combat, for which he received two Purple Hearts. His injuries eventually forced him to retire from active duty service in the Army.
Ladner has served in law enforcement since 2005. He has been employed with the Holly Springs Police Department for three years.
Residents can help the Ladners by contributing to a benefit fund set up at Cherokee Bank. Donations can be made in person at the bank or by mail to: Cherokee Bank, P.O. Box 4250, Canton, GA 30114. Checks should be made payable to: Ladner Benefit Fund.
Cherokee Bank has a location in Canton and in Woodstock. For more information, call the bank's Canton branch at (770) 479-3400.
Cassidy, who said she played matchmaker with the Ladners, said it was love at first sight when Shane and Meg first met and after 13 years of marriage, the couple's love is still "undying."
Cassidy added she hopes the community will continue to take care of their neighbors by way of donations and prayer.
"I just really want prayers." she said. "I want prayers so Shane can stay strong and so Meg (can) be a fighter like she’s always been.”