On July 23, 2019, Lauren Boland’s life was permanently changed.

boland speaking in Seton high school theatre.

In the car with her ex-boyfriend and his family, Boland sat behind the driver’s seat with her legs propped up and the chest strap of the seatbelt behind her. She was about three hours from her home that Sunday evening when they stopped at a four-way intersection.

Boland was on her phone as the car accelerated into the intersection and her ex-boyfriend’s mother screamed in the passenger’s seat. That was when their car was struck by an intoxicated driver going 80 mph in a 55 mph zone. The driver of Boland’s car tried to swerve out of the way as much and as quickly as possible to offset the collision.

“All I really remember,” Boland says, “was the screaming and just seeing white. The thought that those were my last seconds on earth did cross my mind, as I was waiting for the second impact to hit and kill us as we spun.”

With shattered glass in her lap and screams coming from the others in the car, Boland was in shock. It was her ex-boyfriend who snapped her back to reality and pulled her out of his side of the car. Her door has been smashed shut.

First responders arrived to take the driver and passenger of Boland’s car to the hospital for sustained injuries. She had only a few bruises and so remained by the mangled car calling her parents while shaking and crying.

It wasn’t until the next morning that Boland realized she was suffering from a concussion and whiplash from the car wreck.

“It was believed my concussion never fully healed from this accident,” she notes, “because I suffered another one not even three months after the fact that was much more serious than the first. It was so serious, it actually landed me in vestibular rehabilitation to help correct my vision and overall balance.”

Even to this day, Boland suffers from headaches and some memory loss when fatigued. If not for the attempt to swerve the car out of the way and the deployment of her own airbag, Boland believes she might not have survived.

On top of this, Boland experienced some PTSD and depression that has been reduced in therapy since the incident, though she still sometimes wakes from intense dreams full of spinning sensations, not unlike falling dreams.

Boland doesn’t let these things distract her from the significance or meaning the event had on her life, however. For instance, she specifically remembers leaving “the house that day with something of religious meaning around my neck. At the time, my Kairos (cross) was broken so I put my Virgin Mary necklace on. As soon as I felt that around my neck, it clicked that we had guardian angels watching over us that day. It was that moment when I knew this was going to be something much bigger, I just did not know how yet.”

Believing something greater was at play here, Boland reconsidered what purpose the event had and how it could be used as a means to help others.

“I wanted people to have some sort of hope if they were struggling with their own situations,” says Boland. “I wanted to use the darkness of that accident and everything after to serve as a light to others showing them that if I made it, they can too.”

Since the accident, Boland has helped lead a Seton High School junior retreat and shared her story with the entire junior class. She also remains a part of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, where she talks about her experiences and continues to learn more about the spiritual significance her accident had and continues to have.

While COVID-19 has stalled two more retreats Boland has planned, she hopes to lead more events soon “to continue shedding light on topics that are not often ‘socially accepted’ to openly speak about and serve as a real example of someone who has gone through it as well.”

Such difficult topics being brought to light—like mental illness, trauma, and even the dangers of drinking and driving—not only bring solace and comfort to those who have been through similar experiences as Boland but may also prevent such things from happening again. Her work may very well be giving people hope as well as saving lives.

Serving as a symbol of optimism and a beacon of spirituality, Boland wishes that everyone could see the roles fate and purpose play in our lives—that we are all so immensely worthwhile, especially to each other.

“Everything happens for a reason. As cliché as it sounds, it is so true. You never know when your time is to come, so it is important to make the most of the experiences we have. There will always be something more to it, even if we can't see it at the moment. It is through adversity that we grow as people and we can use both the good and the bad experiences in our lives to help others. There is power in the courage to speak up.”

Photo: Lauren Boland speaking at Seton High School.