A new beginning: The courageous story of one local teen who turned tragedy into an opportunity to begin again

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After graduating from cosmetology school, Natalie, now 19, realized her dream and started working as a nail technician at Marigold Wellness Collective in Sharon Township. (Photography: Felicia Vargo)

By Patricia Nugent

It’s said that in the wake of tragedy, life goes on.

But it doesn’t really just “go on” does it? With each new sunrise and every spring flower, life begins again.

After a horrific 2021 sledding accident in Hinckley left 17-year-old Natalie Wilson paralyzed from the chest down, she could have wallowed in the darkness of all the could-have-beens that lie ahead of her. Instead, she chose to begin again.

During weeks in the hospital and rehabilitation center following spinal surgery, Natalie learned how to navigate a newly compromised world. Rather than bitterness, she chose bravery, within two months boldly returning to cosmetology school at the Medina County Career Center to follow her career choice to be a nail technician.

“She’s my inspiration,” says mom Gina, who, along with husband Jim and nine siblings, has blanketed Natalie in love, faith and support every step of the way. Of the 10 Wilson children, ages 17 to 30, eight are adopted from the Philippines and two are biological. “Through it all, Natalie never complains. The school, local community and churches have been amazing, pitching in to help us retrofit our home with ramps and special accommodations. We worked 24/7 to renovate the bathroom in time for her homecoming, where people lined the street to our home with signs, cheers and well wishes.”

Natalie refused to let the accident slow her down. She learned how to drive a specially equipped car with hand controls and got her license. She likes to get around on her own and hang out with friends.

Feels Like Home
After graduating from cosmetology school, Natalie, now 19, realized her dream and started working at Marigold Wellness Collective in Sharon Township.

“I can’t work at a lot of salons because there’s not enough space,” she explains. “There’s plenty of room here for me to move around, and the people have been so kind. The welcoming and charming atmosphere feels like home. I’ve wanted to be a nail tech for years. My older sister is my inspiration and she practiced a lot of her early manicures on me. I love making my clients’ hands and feet beautiful and getting to know them.”

After a Hinckley sledding accident left her paralyzed from the chest down, Natalie Wilson chose to continue her dream of becoming a nail technician. Today she owns her own business at Marigold Wellness Collective and is welcoming new clients.

She rents her space within Marigold and is responsible for building her own clientele.

“I enjoy owning my own business,” she adds. “I need the flexibility to work around therapy. We’re hoping my business will grow heading into 2024.”

The goal of the cutting-edge therapy is to keep her lower limbs moving, so they don’t atrophy. Natalie explains that one type of therapy taps into an exoskeleton robot that allows for her to walk, and another uses sticker charges to stimulate the muscles in her legs.

What’s Trending in Holiday Colors?
Natalie likes to stay on top of trends. She says her clients are moving from earthy fall hues to seasonal shades of crimson and raspberry, and whimsical nail art, like snowmen and sparkles.

“I work with OPI nail polish, which offers the widest selection of colors to suit my clients’ moods,” she says, noting that her personal favorite color, Bubble Bath, is a pinky neutral that’s been one of the company’s most popular shades since debuting in 2001.

Call or text 330-635-2105 to book an appointment with Natalie Wilson at Marigold Wellness Collective, located on the Sharon Circle roundabout at 1348 Sharon-Copley Road in Wadsworth. The wellness center includes a salon and spa, café, functional medicine and aesthetics, float pools, an infrared sauna and cold plunge. Gift certificates are available for purchase. Visit MarigoldSharon.com for more information.