The Flushing resident was 18 years old when her aspiration to come a dancer leaped into her life in 1987. She had won a Joe Tremaine Dance Scholarship, an opportunity that allowed her to travel to Hollywood and, in an unrelated occasion, audition and perform in a Disney-produced commercial.
A total God thing
"I filmed the commercial before my scholarship term was up" recalls Hackett. "It was totally a God thing. I saw a poster for an audition in the same studio that was in a different room that day. I just went there."
That was the planned part of her life.
Unforeseen was a cousin of Hackett's who not only drove her to rehearsals so she could perform in the Disney commercial but also witnessed the good news of Christ's salvation to her, an invitation Hackett accepted.
"I came home on fire for the Lord," recalls Hackett, who will be 52 years old Jan. 15.
Her life as a newly-minted Christian had its share of peaks and valleys.
"I was going to church by myself the first eight months," says Hackett. "I was really involved in my church, but it's hard to live the Christian life alone. I stopped going twice on Sunday and slowly got caught up in my senior year of busyness."
Then in 1988, the tapestry of Hackett's life unraveled.
To avoid slamming into the approaching car, Hackett veered off the road and smashed into a tree head-on. The crash injured her cerebellum, the part of the brain that controls muscle coordination, balance, muscular activity and speech. In that moment, her ability to walk, talk or write was snatched from her.
She was in a comma for a month and when she came out of it, found it nearly impossible to walk, talk, write or go to the bathroom without aid. She spent five months at Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital, and received additional therapy when she returned home. Being a dancer enabled Hackett regain her life.
"Being a dancer, my cerebellum was overdeveloped," says Hackett. "The Lord has really blessed me. I was able to relearn everything because I have a lot of brain matter there because of dancing, from all the movement I have done. Your connections are made up from what you do. My connections were very strong and very abundant. I was able to reroute all those messages. The fact I am able to walk and talk unnoticed is a miracle in itself."
She did not return, however, to dancing.
"I actually think that was the part of my life that was getting in the way," says Hackett. "He (God) decided to not protect the part that made me a dancer."
Those connections eventually enable Hackett to enroll at Mott Community College a year following her accident. She transported herself to classes in a wheelchair and recorded her lectures instead of writing them down, an effort that earned her an associate's degree.
She then earned a bachelor's in psychology at Grand Valley State University in 1996 and a master's in rehabilitation counseling at Michigan State University in 1998.
'It's pretty awesome'
She worked for five years as a rehabilitation counselor for General Motors. Following that stint, Hackett and her husband of 24 years, David, decided to raise a family. Hackett became a full-time mother to two children, a son and daughter, now 21 and 18 years old, respectively.
"It's pretty awesome," says Hackett, who attends Flushing Community Church of the Nazarene. "I'm married to a wonderful man and I do have pretty good kids."