Looking up at her boyfriend with a brace wrapped around her neck, she told him to go away.
The couple had only dated for about a month before the accident that left Halladay unable to move from the chest down.
After the injury she didn't expect her boyfriend, Kirk Thomas, to stick around.
“You can walk away, I wouldn't think any differently of you if you left, we can still be friends,” Hallday recalls thinking.
“I tried to break up with him,” she said.
The 23-year-old Grimsby woman suffered a spinal cord injury in July, after breaking her neck in a diving accident in her boyfriend's backyard pool.
The couple had planned the pool party so their parents could meet for the first time.
“Kirk went to the front of the house to greet his parents and for some weird reason I felt like I should go for a dive,” she said.
“I didn't think I would be that one person that would become a quadriplegic,” said Halladay, who remembers the moment like a cruel joke or a bad nightmare.
Seven months after the accident, every part of her life has changed. Except one.
Kirk never left.
“A lot of my friends were surprised he stayed, which...I don't know...” she trails off for a moment.
“...I don't think any other guy would have done that.”
Through it all, Kirk says he counts his blessings and is grateful for his relationship.
“I hope the best for her, the best for us. She has back most use of her arm and I’m so glad I’m able to kiss her,” he said.
Love song raising money for expenses
After Vallary’s accident, the 27-year-old musician channelled his emotions into song and often played guitar for his girlfriend while she recovered in hospital in Hamilton.
“I’m not a great talker so I decided I’d play a song for her,” said Thomas.
He wrote an original love song, Can’t Imagine, inspired by the couple’s journey through the recovery process.
“It’s about not giving up hope. That’s the message of the song and how I can’t imagine my life without her,” he said.
The love song is helping the recovery process in another way – by paying for the expenses following Vallary’s injury.
With the help of a music producer friend, Kirk put his song on iTunes for 99 cents a download.
All money raised from Can’t Imagine will go to Vallary’s trust fund.
The cost to have a home life once she’s released from Hotel Dieu Shaver Rehabilitation Facility in St. Catharines, is steep.
A shower chair costs over $5,000. A critical care bed will cost over $10,000. Her entire home still needs to be renovated—walls removed, bathroom expanded.
Kirk received a note from iTunes stating his song was among the top 10 downloaded tracks in his genre (acoustic folk) in the first weekend. He expects another update from iTunes next month.
Adjusting to life as a quadriplegic
The road to recovery has been long and Vallary must work on getting her lungs and lower chest muscles in shape. She has to do breathing exercises three times a day, for the rest of her life.
“I was a busy person, always moving, dancing and jumping around. But now I just sit through everything. I have three weddings coming up, I love weddings, but I can’t dance and have to leave early because I have a schedule every day of my life I have to follow,” she said.
Mentally it’s been a roller coaster, says Halladay, but she looks to mom and Kirk for motivation.
“I was very sensitive at the beginning. I cried about everything. They both looked me in the face and said don’t give up,” said Halladay.
She worries how her injury will impact those around her.
“I always have fears. The fear of my mom having to give up so many things just to keep me going,” said Halladay.
She vows to walk again one day
Still, she has high hopes for the future and is determined to walk again.
“My biggest thing is I want to walk down the aisle. I often think about that,” she said.
"I have really high hopes that if I work really hard and keep this going I might be able to walk again or at least stand on my own."
Though she says she hasn't fully made peace with what happened to her, she hopes one day that time will come.
"It's going to take a while. I'd say right now it's about 50/50," she said.
“What I’ve learned is don’t hold back – on anything. Don’t wait, just do it," she said.
"Even though Kirk and I only dated for a month there were so many things I held back because I wanted to keep him interested or I was trying to keep it slow for the first month, but now I don’t get to do any of those things anymore."
"I just want people to remember that, and to be more aware of spinal cord injuries,” she said.
Marathon concert raises over $3,000
A friend of the couple organized an all-day marathon concert fundraiser for Vallary and Kirk, which happened over the Jan. 30 weekend at Taps Brewery in Niagara Falls.
More than a dozen bands played from noon to 2 a.m. and community members were invited to drop by and make a donation.
More than $3,200 was raised.
The event was also a chance for Vallary and Kirk to say thank you to everyone in the community that have stepped forward to help the couple.
"We've had lots of help and volunteers and this was our way to give back," said Thomas.Suggest a correction