Dear editor,

My name is Christa Lambert, former school counselor of Ringgold Elementary School. On Easter Sunday 2014, I was injured in a car accident when an 18-wheeler changed lanes over my car on the interstate. By grace alone, I was not killed in the accident when my car was destroyed.

I have been recovering for the last year from various injuries and receiving excellent therapies and care in order to return to full range of life and function. April 20 marks the year to date of the accident and I desperately want to say something to the hundreds of people from this community who reached out to me...THANK YOU.

I want to publicly thank the precious people of this community who rallied to support and carry me through this difficult life transition with their love and encouragement. The students and staff of Ringgold Elementary School, including past students and their families, rallied to help as they provided meals for my family, transportation to doctors and therapy appointments, visited with flowers, cards and care packages, fund raisers and the list goes on and on of gracious, giving acts of support and encouragement that not only ministered to me, but to my family.

Going so above and beyond, a dear team of fellow teachers, student parents, friends and business partners assembled a team to pack my personal home and all my belongings, moving them into storage as I required constant care from my parents at their home. Teachers and parent volunteers packed my classroom when I had to leave my job at Ringgold Elementary to enter temporary retirement to recover.

The staff of Ringgold Elementary School are hidden, everyday heroes. They quietly minister, encourage and support their children and each other as a family each and every day while doing the hardest job in the world. They are an incredible, beautiful group of people and I will forever be indebted to them for their kindness and support through this life-altering season.

I had watched them valiantly serve in their roles every day, helping children tirelessly, and when life happened and I needed them, these heroes ran to help me. I cannot express my gratitude in words for all they have done and been to me.

In a time when the news is full of despair, stories of crime and harm, this story of these wonderful people and the difference they made in my life gave me hope in the power of love. Any time when I was struggling, battling to keep going, a shining smile would appear at the door, or a card, call or text of encouragement came to say, “Don't give up. Hang on. You will get through this. We are praying. God has a plan.”

Thank you to every church who prayed when a little child mentioned my name. Thank you to Catoosa County schools who helped me navigate and graciously assisted me with support.

Thank you to the RES parents, PTO and students who sent, and still send, words of love and encouragement... precious little hand-scribbled notes and cards that I read again and again. Thank you most importantly to my parents, Bob and Glenda, and sister Joy, who endured the hardships and secondary pain of watching this and caring for me night and day.

Thank you to my precious and faithful friends who have stood with me, cried with me, and carried me in prayer. God used you all to save me from the hopelessness of despair.

Never doubt that we live in a loving community. Never doubt the difference that your loving kindness could make in the life of someone who is hurting.

Christa Lambert, Ringgold