Teen Refuses To Let Brain Injury Stop Her From Walking Across The Graduation Stage.

a two-photo collage. the first is of khalia carter wearing sunglasses as she tries walking with a walker. the second is of khalia carter smiling in her graduation cap and gown as she stands with her mom and another family member.

Walking a graduation stage is always an accomplishment, but for one teenager in Florida, collecting her high school diploma was the result of months of intense physical therapy.

Khalia Carter has always been a special kind of student. She was a cheerleader at Fort Myers High School and a member of several clubs and organizations. She was enjoying all of these senior year activities when, suddenly, the unthinkable happened.

While driving home from hanging out with her friends, Khalia was hit by a drunk driver on a motorcycle. The accident left her with a traumatic brain injury. Instead of finishing her senior year and attending all of the parties and events she’d been looking forward to, Khalia had to relearn how to walk, talk, feed herself, and live independently.

Her mother, Shawnda Cook, says she was “horrified” to get the call about her daughter’s accident. Khalia was left with brain swelling, a concussion, and a mobility disorder. She started doing physical and occupational therapy every day, throwing herself into it with one goal in mind: Walking across the stage to collect her diploma with her classmates at graduation.

“I set that goal the day after this happened because I deserve it,” Khalia said. “I deserve to graduate so I knew that this car crash wasn’t going to stop me from doing that so I just told my mom I’m just going to push even harder now so that I don’t have to use my walker or my wheelchair to walk across the stage. Maybe I can do it myself but, either way, I’m still going to walk across the stage to graduate.”

Shawnda said that if anyone can accomplish this goal, it’s her daughter.

“Khalia pushes through,” she said. “She has the most positive attitude and she is such a strong girl so I know whatever she puts her mind to she can do it.”

True to her word, Khalia was strong enough to walk on graduation day! Her entire family showed up to support her as she donned her green cap and gown and walked across the stage to get her degree.

“I was just excited,” Khalia said. “Not really nervous. I just wanted to do it by myself and that’s all.”

“Khalia, even on the weekends, Khalia got up,” Shawnda said. “She did all her exercises and she deserves this. She deserves every bit of this. We can’t believe this day finally came.”

“We pushed through the journey, and I accomplished a goal I wanted to do today,” Khalia said.

Khalia plans to attend Georgia Southern University in the fall, as planned, though her experience has changed her interests as far as careers go. Now, she is considering starting a charity to help other kids and teens who have suffered from head injuries.

Her mother is focusing on spreading a different message: “That’s just the most important — don’t drink and drive.”

Khalia refused to limit herself, even when the chips were stacked against her. We are inspired by her determination to overcome this incredibly traumatic event!

Share this story to congratulate Khalia on all of her accomplishments.

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