Amanda Batchelor Bissette welcomed UNC basketball player Nate Britt and his dad, Nate Britt Sr., to her home Monday. Bissette loves her Tar Heels and says following the basketball team has helped her through some dark times.
By Lisa Boykin Batts
Times Associate Editor
This is a memorable week for Amanda Bissette Batchelor.
Not only is Batchelor getting prepared for Saturday’s fourth annual Amanda’s Race 5K, but she is also getting over the pleasant surprise visit from former Tar Heel guard Nate Britt, a recent graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Local attorney Allen Thomas arranged for Batchelor, who was paralyzed in a Christmas Day car accident in 2011, to meet with Britt. Thomas is friends with Britt’s father.
Batchelor is a huge UNC basketball fan — always has been.
“When I had just learned how to talk, my daddy brainwashed me,” she said. “Ever since I could say ‘Go Heels,’ Carolina basketball has been my team.”
Batchelor said UNC basketball has been a good diversion for her since becoming a quadriplegic. She goes to at least one game each season and attends Late Night with Roy, which gives fans a fun look at the upcoming season.
“God, my family and friends, and Carolina basketball have gotten me through the hardest times in my life,” she told Britt and his father on Monday.
Batchelor said she and Britt talked about the championship game. He told her he hadn’t watched a recording of the winning game yet, but Batchelor sure has.
On Sunday night, Batchelor and her dad re-watched the championship game.
“When I’m having a down day, I can just turn that on, and it makes me feel better,” she said.
Britt gave Batchelor a basketball signed by head coach Roy Williams and signed Batchelor’s season schedule. He also signed one of Batchelor’s paintings that Williams had also signed.
“They were just the nicest people you’d ever meet,” she said, and is grateful to Thomas for making it happen.
Before Britt and his father, Nate Britt Sr., left, Batchelor told them how thankful she was that they came to Wilson to meet her.
“I told them, ‘When y’all leave today, y’all might not remember my name or remember me. But I will remember this forever.’”
Batchelor said she is grateful to Thomas, who originally asked the Britts if they could round up some memorabilia for Batchelor. He wasn’t expecting the visit but was very thankful they wanted to stop in Wilson on the way back home to Washington, D.C.
“The Britts are absolutely unbelievable,” he said.
Thomas said the visit was an awesome experience, and he was glad he could do something nice for Batchelor.
“She deserves a break,” he said.
In the midst of all this excitement, Batchelor is also thinking ahead to Saturday and her goal to finish the 5K on her motorized wheelchair in 40 minutes. Her previous record is 44 minutes.
The 5K is held each year to raise money toward Batchelor’s medical bills and ongoing care.
More than 200 people have signed up already to run, walk or roll at this year’s event, held at the Wilson Recreation Center. Runners can sign up online at www.runtheeast.com or register on the morning of the race, from 6:45 to 7:15.
Batchelor said it’s hard for her to explain how it makes her feel to have so much support.
“I cannot get over the love and support I have gotten, not just from my family and friends, but the community,” she said.
People show up at the race and for other fundraisers and also encourage her with her paintings.
“It just does me so good to just know that people think of me and pray for me.”
Batchelor said her condition has been stable, but she said she does have a new trick.
She has been working toward a goal of retrieving a water bottle from the counter, putting it in her lap and opening and closing it so she can give herself water. She recently reached her goal, marking one more thing she can do for herself.
“I know it seems really small, but it’s big for me.”
Batchelor said she has good days and bad days, just like everyone else.
“After days like yesterday, I have no reason not to have a positive attitude,” she said Tuesday.
“It’s a great day; it’s a great week. I have nothing to hang my head or feel bad about. I feel good.”