Peglow family: life changed in the blink of an eye with horse accident

Becky Chiado and her sons have lived with her parents since her fall from a horse in July 2008. Pictured are front row: Isaiah, left, and Becky. Back row: Jacob, left, and Jeremiah.
Becky Chiado and her sons have lived with her parents since her fall from a horse in July 2008. Pictured are front row: Isaiah, left, and Becky. Back row: Jacob, left, and Jeremiah.

By Jennie Zeitler, Staff Writer
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When Stan and Lori Peglow pictured their retirement, they did not see caring for their disabled daughter and raising her three sons. But that is the turn their life took in 2008 when their daughter, Becky, fell from a horse.

The Peglows raised their three children in the Twin Cities. Becky earned her bachelor’s degree with majors in elementary education and the Bible from Crown College in Eagan. She put herself through college by working in group homes.

She married and gave birth to Jacob, 19, who is a student at North Central University; Jeremiah, 15, who attends Rocori High School and Isaiah, 13, a Rocori Middle School student.

Stan was a police officer who was injured while on duty in 2004. He retired in 2005 and he and Lori moved to their lake house on Horseshoe Chain of Lakes near Richmond.

They bought a feed store in Richmond and brought Becky, whose husband had died, and her three sons out of the Twin Cities and to the country.

Becky bought the house next to her parents’ store and helped out there. After Stan and Lori sold the store and retired, Becky worked as a paraprofessional in the Rocori School District and worked on her master’s degree at St. Cloud State University.

Stan and Lori retired to a farm near Richmond in June 2008. Becky had saddled up her horse there after a summer school class, July 14, 2008.

“I normally don’t follow her, but Jeremiah and I were in the golf cart and watched her gallop down the driveway,” Stan said.

Becky’s saddle loosened, she lost a stirrup and came off the horse head first. She was helicoptered to St. Cloud. Right after the accident, she had a stroke which caused short-term memory damage. She also had brain swelling and battled infections for more than three years.

“We were told she’d never be out of a wheelchair,” Lori said. “The doctor said if she was lucky, she might be able to live in a group home.”

Becky had 15 surgeries on her skull. During her last surgery in October 2011, a shunt was put in her head to drain fluids.

“She had eight months of infection all through her body which no doctor found,” Stan said.

Becky lost much of her eyesight in the accident as well, suffering from cortical blindness.

She nearly died three times. In December 2009, her parents brought Becky home from a nursing home.

“We knew she’d die if she stayed there,” said Stan.

They built an addition to their home, with a bedroom for Becky, bathroom and family room.

“It’s been a five-year process,” said Stan. “It was like a death to all of us and everyone had to grieve it in their own way.”

“I was expecting her to come out of it normal — I had my hopes up,” said Jacob. “When she didn’t remember me at first, it opened my eyes to how serious things were.”

The Peglows had gone to Texas for six weeks in early 2008, and “that was going to be our life,” Lori said.

“Life changed in the blink of an eye,” said Stan.

Although they live with fatigue every day, the Peglows are sustained by their faith.

“We have a strong faith in Jesus,” Stan said. “We know that things change with prayer.”

There is a catch-22 with helping Becky to recover from the effects of the accident. She can’t see to do exercises which would improve her short-term memory. She can’t be taught how to manage her sight loss because she has no short-term memory.

Becky was left-handed before her accident. Since the stroke affected her left side, she now has to use her right hand.

“They go through life in ways that they never dreamed of,” said the Peglows’ pastor, Joe Williquette of Grace Alive Church in Albany. “They have had their faith tested to degrees that you and I hope (pray) to never be tested, yet their faith has been unwavering.

“They don’t fully understand God’s workings or ways in their situation, but they have continually reached and looked to the Lord for strength to get through these times of testing and have grown closer to God through them,” he said. “They have been an encouragement to others of God’s faithfulness.”

The boys are strongly supported by River of Life Church in Cold Spring, where they are very involved in activities.