Cubs fan visits Wrigley for first time after serious accident

Cubs fan visits Wrigley for first time after serious accident

CHICAGO -- On Sunday, Lauren Pokuta, 20, was sitting in Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts' seats in the front row at Wrigley Field, near the dugout. Three years ago, after a near-fatal car accident, her family thought she'd never come to a ballgame again, but thanks to the Cubs, she was motivated.

A cousin, Matt Hummel, contacted the Cubs after Lauren's accident on Aug. 2, 2011, and asked for help with their fundraising efforts to offset the medical expenses. And the Cubs came through.

The team sent items to be auctioned and put together a video with messages from several players and Ricketts, who told Lauren the Cubs were saving her a seat at Wrigley Field.

On Sunday, she was in that seat.

"That video came when we were in the darkest time of our lives," Lauren's father, Mike, said Sunday. "It lifted our spirits as a family."

Lauren suffered a traumatic brain injury, along with a broken clavicle, cheekbone, pelvis and a collapsed lung, and she was on life support and in a coma for four weeks and had a feeding tube for nine months.

"[Her rehab] is going real well," Mike said of his daughter. "We've truly been blessed. Three years ago, on Aug. 2, was her accident. We said last rites for her twice. She wasn't supposed to make it. For us to be here today is truly a blessing."

Mike, his wife, Tonja, and their other daughter, Brynne, 21, were at Wrigley Field Sunday with Lauren. Mike's love of the Cubs began when he lived in Portage Park, and he would watch games on TV with his daughters. They went to three or four games together when the girls were younger.

"We haven't been to a game as a family since the accident," Mike said.

Mike had stayed in touch with the Cubs since the accident, and he had tickets to a game this year. Mike told Jahaan Blake, director of fan experiences, that the seats were in the upper deck in right field. Blake said Ricketts wanted to host the family.

"Who am I to argue?" Mike said.

On Sunday, they were able to have a hot dog in the sun, see the Cubs against the Pirates and forget about all the rehab and the life-threatening moments.

Lauren hopes to begin online college courses in the spring.

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.