“A lot of emotion, a lot of gratitude.” A special gathering to honor farm accident survivor
For Amber Rose Kordiak, her family and friends — a celebration of hope, love, and survival.
“Definitely love has helped because my family, is like they’re very loving people,” she says. “They taught me how to love others and treat others with kindness.”
Dozens of people gathered at the family’s farm in Hinckley Saturday to mark a special decade.
“A lot of emotion, a lot of gratitude,” smiles Jen Kordiak, Amber Rose’s mom. “I guess I feel so grateful, and that’s why I want to throw this party — want to thank the community and family friends.”
Ten years ago, on July 6, 2013, Amber Rose, seven at the time, stepped onto a 600-pound tractor tire that was leaning against a barn.
As her father tried to warn her off, it flipped on top of her, and the six-inch metal rims sliced through her face.
Amber Rose’s father Jesse Kordiak spoke with 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS in 2016 about that difficult day.
“I yelled not to play on that, but I didn’t get it all the way out, and it went over on top of her,” he said. “As soon as it went over, I ran over there and lifted it up and I just tried to hold her face together. I just thought she was going to die right there.”
Emergency crews airlifted Amber Rose to a Twin Cities hospital — her body going into shock.
But remarkably, her organs didn’t shut down.
“She lost more than 50% of her blood and it’s said that if you lose more than 40%, you’re pretty much going to pass away,” Jen notes.
But this little girl, her family will tell you, was a fighter — surviving that initial trauma, undergoing 34 surgeries and dealing with a severe brain injury.
“Very difficult lifestyle, going through multiple surgeries,” says Mary Odegard, a family friend who’s known Amber Rose since she was a little girl. “Going down to Mayo and not knowing what it’s going to be like when she gets done.”
The Kordiaks graciously permitted us to document Amber Rose’s medical journey at Mayo Clinic, including numerous bone transplants to repair her face.
Her most recent surgery was just this past March.
“It was brutal, and she had 15 hours,” Jen says. “Her kidneys failed on the table, but they were able to revive her. Just all kinds of things.”
In between procedures, during long recoveries at home, pain was Amber Rose’s constant companion.
“No, I don’t think I’m brave,” she says. “I just go through the hard things. I’m used to it, so I just push through it.”
The now 17-year-old says her strong faith and her family have helped keep her going.
At Saturday’s gathering, the family put together a photo gallery of Amber Rose’s past ten years.
There was a table displaying wristbands with messages of love and hope.
“Just kind of want to let her know how everybody loves her and appreciates her,” Jessie says. “I think she’s the strongest person I’ve ever seen.”
“I’d like to tell people that love, real sacrificial love, is the biggest blessing ever,” Jen adds. “That this little girl had a big heart before this even happened. And she always wanted joy for everybody.”
Amber Rose’s next surgery is in August, to make repairs on her facial muscles.
She’s been home-schooling, but in September she plans to start attending classes at East Central Senior High, north of Hinckley.
Now, she’s also thinking about the future and a potential career in criminal justice.
“Ever since I was like eight, I’ve really loved FBI work and forensic psychology and behavioral analysis, so I’m kind of leaning towards that,” Amber Rose declares. “Because I love studying the human body language, ‘cos you can tell a lot through that.”
And she says she’s just getting started.
“I found a quote when I was younger, that says like ‘hope holds on to the end,’ and I kind of live by that,” she says.