Bonner business owner thanks community for support after injury
Suzanne Lee Hern can hardly believe her luck when she gets into the car she purchased last week thanks to donations from the community.
After a car accident in December almost took her ability to walk — not to mention her life — Hern, who owns the Mona Lisa Fine Arts Studio in downtown Bonner, says it has been amazing how many people have offered help and support, whether it was bringing her meals, running her errands, or supporting events like the “Spaghetti and Carfetti” fundraiser March 6.
“I feel like I will just be spending the rest of my days thanking everybody, and that’s almost something I can’t even do,” she said. “I’m just going to be paying it forward as much as I can, because I was just shown so much generosity. I can’t wait to have the opportunity to do that.”
On Dec. 10, Hern’s Chevy Blazer skidded on an icy highway exit ramp, colliding with a pole. The impact was on the driver’s side door; Hern suffered extensive internal injuries, including damage to her spleen, ribs, hips and pelvis.
It took 71 days of recovery in the hospital and three surgeries before she was given permission to put weight on her legs and attempt walking Feb. 19, returning home the next day.
“The recovery is slow,” Hern said. “I had in my head that maybe after a couple of weeks and be back to my old self, but that they tell me will take several months.”
But Hern has been able to walk with a cane, though she says waking up her muscles and ligaments has been almost as painful as the original injuries.
“I don’t feel too sorry for myself because I am getting to walk,” she said. “And I haven’t really been out of commission as long as some people in stories I have heard.”
She said she is trying not to “overdo,” continuing the slow process of recovery, with no further surgeries needed.
“All the metal that was put in is not coming out,” she joked.
The “painting parties” Hern’s business is known for have continued since the accident with the help of friends and family, whom she also had to rely on for transportation. Other artistic offerings at Mona Lisa halted and would have remained halted had she no ability to get herself to the studio.
But Bonner Springs United Methodist Church, which Hern has attended since her childhood, put together the Spaghetti and Carfetti Fundraiser, knowing she didn’t have enough insurance to cover the cost of a new car but needed transportation to help her get her business going again.
The fundraiser’s goal was to raise $6,500, and it met the goal, and then some. Hern was able to purchase a vehicle last week.
“It’s got a great safety rating; I’m thrilled with lots of airbags all over the place,” she said. “My criteria were safety and good gas mileage. It makes me feel like I’m way ahead on my recovery now.”
On Friday, she made it back to the studio — and slowly and carefully made it up the steps to the second floor — for a painting party.
“It was pretty tough on me, but I’m back, the schedule is back,” Hern said. “The studio will slowly but surely start resuming everything.”
Yoga classes begin at the studio Thursday, and Hern said she also would soon resume teen art workshops. An updated schedule will be posted at the business’s website, monalisafineartsstudio.com.