Kolton Smith had so much going for him as he entered his last year of high school.
The Florida teen was a talented athlete who looked forward to playing one more season on Durant High School’s football team. And after graduation, he would join the military and serve his country with pride. But those plans would drastically change.
In June 2018, Kolton was driving his truck just after it had rained. The road was slick, and he wasn’t wearing his seatbelt. In a moment of distraction, he lost control of the vehicle and the truck flipped, ejecting Kolton.
“The next thing I know, I was on my back looking at the sky,” he remembered. When he tried getting up to call his mom for help, he found he couldn’t move his legs.
After being airlifted to Tampa General Hospital and undergoing surgery, Kolton received devastating news: he had broken his back and he was paralyzed from the waist down. He’d have to use a wheelchair. His dream of joining the military and playing football would no longer be an option.
Still, the teen chose to focus on the positive. “I thank God every day for letting me stay on this earth,” he added.
So he set a new goal for himself. His spinal cord wasn’t severed in the crash, meaning with time, there was a chance he’d be able to use his legs again. So he channeled all his strength into his recovery in the hopes he’d walk across the stage at his graduation.
It definitely helped to have the support of all his friends and family behind him. His team named him the 2018 captain, and members of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers organization sent him videos with messages of encouragement.
The community rallied around the teen as well, setting up a GoFundMe campaign to help pay for his medical expenses as he healed. So far, they’ve already raised more than $8,000 in donations.
And before Kolton knew it, his big day had arrived. He’d been working so hard up to this moment, he hadn’t even noticed the year fly by — just like he didn’t notice the standing ovation when he walked across the stage to accept his diploma.
While Kolton’s football days are now a thing of the past, he reached a new, incredible milestone in May as he took step after step with the help of a walker. His coach, Wesley Wyatt, followed closely behind with a wheelchair, but he didn’t need it. Kolton says he was so focused on putting one foot in front of the other that “I didn’t even know everyone was standing.”
Less than a year after the terrible accident that changed his life, Kolton made good on his promise to himself. He knew back then his life wasn’t over, and proved it to himself and everyone else when he got on that stage. “If you have an injury, you can overcome anything you want,” he said.
If this young man’s story doesn’t inspire you, nothing will! Watch as Kolton’s teachers and classmates cheer him on below, and share to celebrate his victory!
My baby boy is officially a Durant graduate👨🎓and I had to hold back tears watching this amazing young man get his diploma, I'm sooo proud of you . Daddy loves you!!!! #62strong #myhero
Posted by Karl Smith on Thursday, May 23, 2019
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