Mancos resident Barbara Welch lost her leg almost a year ago after she was pinned between her running vehicle and a cattle gate for more than six hours.
Looking back on the year she spent recovering, she's grateful for the people of Mancos who sent more cards than her nurses had ever seen, and helped pay her rent and her propane bill.
"I live in the best darn little community in the whole world," she said.
Welch was on her way to work at the P&D Grocery store on Aug. 30, 2013 around 4:30 a.m. when she got out of her car to open a gate up near the National Forest land where she was camped. But she accidentally didn't put her car all the way into park. The running vehicle rolled forward into her body, holding her in place and badly burning her body for hours.
She was conscious the whole time and spent that time talking with God.
She recalled telling Him: "You can take my leg, but don't take my life."
She was found at 10:30 a.m. by a logging trucker and was flown to Denver for care.
During her recovery, Welch was one of the first recipients of the Pay it Forward Fund, an organization underneath the umbrella of Mancos Valley Resources. The fund was set up by Tami Graham in 2012 as a way for residents of the 81328 zip code to help each other with needs that arise as a result of medical emergencies such as bills and gas money, said Patricia Burk and Dana Weaver who are now spearheading the effort.
"The needs are never going to go away," Burk said.
The fund recently received a $1,500 El Pomar grant in July to help continue its work. But the ladies have their sights set on rising $7,000 to $10,000 that would go to help neighbors in the area.
"That's what living in Mancos has always been about," Weaver said.
After spending many months recovering with family, Welch returned to Mancos in May and rode her horse, Rex, in the Mancos Days Parade in July to help promote the Pay It Forward Fund and received a warm reception.
"I felt like the hometown high school hero," she said.
While she is still journeying through the change and recovery, Welch said the experience made her appreciate the little things in life like the ability to drive and go grocery shopping, even more than she did before.
"Once you face death, you're a lot more grateful for things," she said.
To apply for help or to donate to the fund visit: mancospayitforwardfund.org.