I made a goal in 2009 that I was going to walk across the stage at my high school graduation. Leading up to the formation of that goal I had started to see some noticeable improvements in my leg strength and movement, so I decided I wanted to make a goal to keep myself accountable. I said it on The Today Show and promised that I would succeed.
To train for graduation I spent 6 hours a week at Project Walk, a physical rehabilitation center in Carlsbad, and countless hours stretching and training on my own time. Every time I went into Project Walk I saw improvements and, even if they were just small details, it encouraged me to work harder.
In less than a year I went from needing help from three trainers and a walker to walk to just a walker and one trainer. At that point I knew that my dream was going to be fulfilled if I kept things up.
As graduation day drew nearer, my training changed from muscle strengthening and coordination to putting everything together and walking. I knew the stage was going to be about 20 feet long so I tried to walk twice that distance as tall and fast as I could. It became easy to do the 40 so I kept increasing the distance. I knew I was going to be nervous so I wanted to make sure I could go the length of the stage with no problems.
At the beginning of senior year I told The Today Show that I was going to walk and they immediately agreed to do an update. The same crew who came out in 2009, Josh Weiner and Jenna Wolfe, showed up the day before graduation. We all went out to dinner and my mom surprised all of us.
She had tracked down and invited the Good Samaritan who was first on the scene of my accident and saved my life. Starting from that moment, everything seemed to be in slow motion. Right up to the moment I started walking on stage everything seemed surreal. When my name was called and I stood up my entire class and the whole stadium jumped up. Their support was the reason I was able to keep the rigorous training schedule and go through with this. I am forever thankful for my awesome friends and family.
The Today Show aired the segment on June 26. I got an amazing response of emails and phone calls. I’m off to USC next year and am majoring in Film Production. Stay tuned for the next big goal.