By Brian Park

It’s been four and a half months since San Juan resident Kelli Groves and her two young daughters were involved in a harrowing car accident that left their car teetering over a 100-foot drop in Santa Barbara County, but now her oldest daughter Sage Groves is prepared to take the stage, leg brace and all, for a youth production of the “Wizard of Oz” at the Camino Real Playhouse.

Sage, 10, has participated in rehearsals since April and will play the role of the munchkin coroner for two shows on Saturday, June 16 at 10 a.m. and another at 1 p.m. Despite a leg brace and a broken pelvis, Sage has been an active participant during rehearsals and has insisted on receiving no special treatment.

“When she does need a hand, someone is there for her, but she has never spoken out and said ‘I can’t do this,’” said Stephen Zygo, the founder and director of Acting Academy for Kids, which is putting on the performance. “She really is a ray of sunshine. She’s very positive and has a great attitude.”

“It was a miracle for us to make it out of that car,” said Kelli Groves, who also suffered a broken pelvis. The family stayed in a Santa Barbara hospital for eight days before coming back down to San Juan. Sage was at first confined to a wheelchair and later hindered by a walker. She has since been given a leg brace due to fractures and severed tendons, and although she was frustrated at first, her desire to perform has helped her recovery, both mentally and physically.

“I really do think coming back here was a motivator,” said Kelli. “I’ll definitely be in there crying. The world needs this little girl.”

“In movies they can retake, but in plays you have to work really hard in front of a live audience,” said Sage. “I’m looking forward to being on stage and doing my best … I’m excited to do it because it’s what I like to do.”

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