Today, Dani Loeb is busy flying down the slopes as an aerial skier and traveling the world for competitions, but there was a day when she wasn’t quite sure what her athletic future would look like. While at a friend’s house, just across the lake from her own home in Lake Martin, Alabama, she jumped in the water and landed on a cottonmouth bed. “I had no idea it was there, but at first I really didn’t realize anything had happened,” Dani said. “I thought at first that I just hit my foot on the ground.”

Dani, in fact, had been bitten by the venomous snake. As the day went on, she began to realize something was wrong. “We went to a birthday party and it got to be where I couldn’t even walk because my foot hurt so bad,” she said. Thankfully, a doctor happened to be at the birthday party, and upon examination, sent her immediately to the local emergency room. She ended up sitting in the waiting room for a while. “While we sat there, we could see a red line was moving up my leg from the poison,” she said. “It was pretty scary.”

Her local hospital eventually gave her one vial of anti-venom, but they recommended she get to Children’s of Alabama in Birmingham for further treatment. Children’s Critical Care Transport team airlifted her to Birmingham and monitored the progression of the poison in her leg. Though it was certainly a scary moment for the then 6-year-old Dani, she was quickly made to feel comfortable by the hospital’s nurses and staff. “I remember waking up at the hospital and seeing the mark on my leg of how far the red line got up my leg,” she says. “But when I woke up, I also had coloring books and even ice cream waiting on me, which was really nice and helped take my mind off what was going on.”

The doctors ended up giving Dani seven vials of anti-venom, neutralizing the snake’s venom. Though Dani suffered no long-term damage, she dealt with various short-term symptoms of the snake bite. Her immune system was compromised. “It wasn’t very good for a while after that happened,” she said, recalling random muscle spasms in her leg. “At that time, I was heavily involved in gymnastics, so it really took a while for me to get back to where I was. It took a long time to get my leg to go completely straight again.”

Though she only spent four or five days at Children’s, Dani still vividly remembers the time she spent there – a time that could have been quite scary but ultimately was a positive experience. “Everyone there was so nice and so kind,” she said. “I felt so comfortable, which is important at that age. I remember honestly not even wanting to leave. It was a wonderful experience in the midst of a bad accident.”