Tami Chmielewski: Mom who suffered severe burns from bonfire hopes to recover in time to walk son down the aisle
Tami Chmielewski underwent a painful grafting surgery after suffering severe burns to her torso and legs in August 2022 which left her unable to walk
SAINT PAUL, MINNESOTA: Single mom of four Tami Chmielewski, who suffered 30 per cent severe burns in a horrific bonfire incident a month ago, has declared a competition with her 1-year-old granddaughter to see who can walk first before her son's wedding,
The 51-year-old was on vacation in Minnesota celebrating the wedding of a best friend's son on August 27 when the incident happened. Guests were surrounding a nighttime bonfire when the flames flared up and Tami's clothes caught fire.
Tami is set on walking her son down the aisle at his wedding next spring. Brooklyn Hardwick, who is Tami's daughter and the toddler's mom said to PEOPLE, that she sends daily videos of the child's progress to Tami "just keeps reminding my mom of why she's still fighting and what she has to live for."
Brooklyn said, "we've been really trying to stay positive and lean on God and our faith and know there is a plan and there will be something good that comes from it all, and he's got us and he's got her, and he's watching over all of us," adding, "my mom remains optimistic and eager to continue getting stronger and back on her feet."
Tami suffered severe injuries to her torso and both of her legs. According to her daughter Brooklyn, an ambulance carried the 51-year-old to the Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis, where she had to undergo a grafting surgery using skin cut from her back, thighs, and buttocks.
As per People, doctors told the family that Tami needs at least six months of physical therapy to recover.
The family put up a GoFundMe page to seek help with costs for a medical flight to bring Tami back to Arizona, where she lives with her teen son and Brooklyn's sister. However, she will remain under the care of her current medical team in Minneapolis, which is the home of Tami's older sister.
Brooklyn and her twin sister, both 24, and their 15-year-old brother were finally able to visit their mother for a short period of time earlier this month.
Brooklyn, who is also a registered nurse, said, "she hasn't seen herself and she was really worried about us seeing her, of course," adding, "it just felt really good to be reconnected with her and be face-to-face and be able to hold her hand and tell her we love her."
Tami, who is divorced and works for a small business that does restoration work, also thanked her well-wishers on Tuesday, September 20 for the first time since the incident. She said, "thank you all for the prayers and well-wishes ... please don't stop. They are appreciated more than you know."
Meanwhile, Brooklyn said, "the doctors and nurses and the physical therapists, everyone has been amazing."