GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Rachel Sanchez was shot in the head in 2003 when she was a passenger in her grandfather's car. Now, at 16 years old, she won't let her disabilities keep her from doing what she loves.
Rachel was riding in the car with her grandfather while traveling on Interstate 40 in Catawba County in 2003. A teenager was on the side of the road shooting a gun at cars traveling on the highway below. Rachel was shot in the head.
Rachel sustained a traumatic brain injury and was not expected to survive let alone walk or talk. "Rachel's Law" was passed in 2005 adding harsher penalties for firing a gun into an occupied car or home.
Read: NC Senate Panel Approves "Rachel's Law"
At 16 years old, and nearly 11 years since the accident, Rachel is excelling at her passion. She's been riding since she was 3 years old. When she was able to get back on the horse, she did.
Rachel is a competitive horseback rider - despite being legally blind and partially paralyzed. In November, she won the United Professional Horseman's Association Exceptional Challenge Cup for the physically challenged at the National Finals in Kansas City.
Mary Orr from High Caliber Stables in Greensboro has been her coach since Rachel was a little girl.
Orr said, "I think that riding has helped Rachel really find her place and confidence. I think that sometimes she's more at peace on a horse than she is anywhere."
Rachel's mom, Stefanie Sanchez, believes that her daughter is a miracle, defying the odds after being told she wouldn't survive. Riding has helped Rachel with body awareness using different muscles and memory.
Rachel told WFMY News 2's Liz Crawford, "It keeps me calm, it keeps me assertive. It's relaxing to me."
Rachel intends on riding the rest of her life. She's a fighter and her advice for others who meet adversity:
"Keep on trying people, just keep on trying," said Rachel.
WFMY News 2