On a tiny plot of land in upstate New York, Fred and Libby Vroman raised a family of five girls, on 75 acres of love. Their closeness was a source of strength. One autumn day in 1979, the Vromans found out just how strong their family really was.
Tracy Vroman says, "I don't really remember a whole lot because I was very young." Then just 7, Tracy Vroman was halfway through her afternoon chores when she decided to go out to the barnyard for a chat with dad. He was busy that day, using a machine to put corn up in a silo. It was no place for a child, and he warned her away before he started the machine up.
She recalls, "He told me to back away from the tractor and once he got it started he would come and talk to me."
But 7-year-old girls have minds of their own: Tracy didn't listen.
She says, "He started the tractor and my coat flew over his head. That was how he knew that I was in there."
The child was caught in the machine's merciless teeth. Fred Vroman shut it down, pulled her broken body free and called for his wife.
Tracy's big sister Jennifer says, "I looked out the window and I saw my father carrying my sister and he was just screaming my mother's name."
Libby Vroman ran out to find a scene of horror beyond imagining: the machine had broken the little girl's spine, fractured her skull, crushed her legs, and had torn off both of her arms. Kneeling over her injured child, Libby Vroman forced herself to stay calm.
Tracy Vroman says, "She took hold of both of my stubs and I opened my eyes and looked at her. And she just said everything is going to be OK then and she kept me talking and she told me several years later that she knew that if she didn't keep me talking to her, and that if I fell asleep, then I would never talk to her again."
One miracle of childhood is resilience. And Tracy Vroman was more resilient than most. Her father retrieved her severed arms, and doctors were able to reattach one of them. After a two-month hospital stay, Tracy went home and got on with the business of growing up.
Tracy Vroman finished school, fell in love, and married Mark Miller. In time, she gave birth to three children, changing their diapers with her feet. Now, 24 years after the accident, Tracy's life is as full as she could ever have dreamed - a testament to her faith, her spirit, and the strength she inherited from the two people who carried her through the toughest day of her life.
She says, "They're such happy people and they've taught us to be that way. I have the world's greatest parents and that's what I want the world to know."
On Wednesday's The Early Show, Tracy read her letter to the Week of Wishes:
"The wish I would like to make on behalf of my whole family is that my mom and my dad go on a cruise. They've never really been on a vacation like that, and I've heard her say at different times how much she would like to go on a cruise. I know this was sent in a little under the wire, but if you could please consider this and know how much this would make her happy and help us even in a little way to say: Thank you, mom, for all the years of love, of giving, of going without just so we could be happy. They say the worth of a man or a woman in this case is measured not by what they have but how much they're loved. And she and my dad are loved by all who know them."
Not a dry-eye was on the set as Tracy's parents and sisters were along with her on the show. Co-anchor Harry Smith broke the good news to Tracy's parents: "We're going to send you on a cruise. We called the folks at Cunard who run the Queen Mary 2. Have you seen the stuff in the news about this great, big, beautiful new ship? Well, there's a ticket for you and a ticket for you. You can go on it any time this year that you want to go."
Of course, to go to a cruise like that, with all those shipboard activities, you need an extensive wardrobe. So Linda Lee, vice president of Macy's-By-Appointment (personal shoppers) held out a large shopping bag and offered, "We don't want you to worry about what you're going to wear, so we're going to fill this and lots more for you. You'll each have a personal shopper for an entire day and you'll have an entire wardrobe, everything from workout clothes to what you're going to wear at the captain's table - beautiful evening wear and all of the luggage to put it in."