On February 5th, 2003 my cousin Nick, who was 14 at the time, went with his ski club to have a fun afternoon snowboarding. What started out as a fun afternoon quickly turned into a tragic accident as Nick went off an icy jump, not wearing a helmet. He came down on his neck and immediately went unconscious. His friends formed a circle around him to barricade him from other passerbys and waited for emergency help to come. He was life-flighted to UMass Medical Hospital in Worcester, MA. He was in a coma for 25 days and had brain surgery. The doctors told my aunt and uncle as well as the rest of the family who stayed at the hospital day after day that Nick would most likely never walk, talk, swallow, or even breathe again on his own.
One day at a time they slowly removed tubes and monitors. He came out of the coma and was transferred to Fransiscan Hospital for Children in Brighton, MA. Here he did occupational, physical, and speech therapy every day. With daily family visits and LOTS OF humor intertwined into his daily routines he made significant progress. He graduated to eating baby food and yogurt instead of through a feeding tube and was slowly learning to get mobility back. He had a goal to run out of the hospital.
After 75 days in the hospital Nick ran out. He had reached his goal. He still had some tremors in his right side (his natural strong side.) This meant he had to learn how to do everything left handed instead.
He went on to be tutored the rest of the school year, insisting that he'd graduate the 8th grade on time with his friends. And he did.
He persisted with his rehab and learning and calls himself "lucky" for experiencing what he has and coming out on the other side. Nick was awarded the Profile in Courage from Fransican Children's Hospital and since his visit he and his family have started the Prefontaine Foundation at the hospital.
He works for and visits the hospital often. He graduated high school last year and we all could not have been more proud. He today at the age of 19 has already accomplished so much more than the doctors ever expected after his accident. He just got his realtor's license, does professional speaking to business people, youth, and children alike on overcoming adversity, and slowing down to take time with decision making. He also writes a free monthly newsletter highlighting other heroes among us. Each month he features a new person who has dealt with and/or is dealing with a difficult situation and making only the best of it. Seeing all of these people with such strong convictions and the courage to overcome serves as an example of how everyone else should be living.
Nick is an extremely inspirational, strong, motivated, and talented young individual. Not only is Nick my cousin, but I also work with him on several real estate projects and speaking engagements. He's remarkable and I get see it every day first hand.
Submitted by Anonymous
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