For Grace Markel, Aug. 10 was supposed to be a special night. Her parents, Amy and Will Markel, had bought tickets for the 7-year-old to see one of her favorite singers, Taylor Swift, perform in Chicago, and she couldn't wait, according to People magazine.
Then tragedy struck.
As the girl was getting out of a cab at the concert venue, she was struck by a speeding SUV driven by an uninsured driver with a suspended license. For the next two days, she was hospitalized at Children's Mercy Hospital and treated for two skull fractures, a slight left orbital fracture, multiple head lacerations, a severe concussion and road rash over her face and body.
To celebrate their daughter's resilience, her parents, who live in Columbia, Mo., bought tickets to Swift's Nashville concert on Sept. 21, where the singer surprised them and brought them backstage before the show.
"Taylor greeted Grace by her name and immediately knelt down and hugged her," Grace's mother told the magazine. "She told Grace she had a cold and asked Grace to sing extra loud to help her out."
Afterward, the singer gave Grace a big hug and gave her an autograph that said, "I heart Grace! Taylor."
"Taylor's mother told Grace she was so sorry about what happened to her, and she gave me a hug saying she sympathized with what we'd been through," Markel continued. "It was so surreal and amazing."
As for Grace, who was just cleared to return to school and her activities, Swift seemed "nice and tall and pretty," she said.
"[The meeting] was just a warm and genuine exchange that made it feel like time has stopped, and it was just the two of them," her mother added. "It's so hard to reconcile what we witnessed at the time of the accident with her amazing recovery. ... We feel so very lucky and blessed."