Thanks to these partners for their continued involvement in our community and education.
Accident won't stop drive to graduateBy Lisa J. Pawlowski
For the Amarillo Globe-News
Aug. 6, 2008, is a day the Horton family will never forget.
Eighteen-year-old Heather was two weeks away from starting her senior year at Bushland High School when she and a friend were in a car accident.
She was flown to Northwest Texas Hospital. Doctors gave her less than a 1 percent chance of survival because of a traumatic brain injury.
A little more than a month later, she was taken to Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas for rehab. There, she had to relearn to walk, talk and swallow. Miraculously, she managed to do it in six weeks all while doing school work.
"It's just a miracle by the grace of God that the child is even here," said Leslie Horton, Heather's mother. "She's been sick; she's had surgeries; she's had infections. She doesn't let it get her down."
A teacher visited the Horton house twice a week to help Heather stay on track for graduation.
"She's not able to attend school because it's too overstimulating," Leslie Horton said. "You and I can filter out what we need to and focus. She doesn't have that ability yet. A classroom filled with 20-30 students is not a good place for her to learn."
The Hortons credit their small community for helping them to get through the school year.
Leslie Horton is also grateful for teacher Donna Corder.
"When Heather has thrown up her hands and said, 'I can't do any more,' Donna has always been there saying, 'Yes, you can.' She's a fabulous teacher," Leslie Horton said.
She credits Heather's drive and strong will for her recovery. When Heather returned home from Dallas, the school said it would do anything to help Heather catch up on her credits and even offered to let her graduate with her class and finish her credits during the summer if she fell short.
"She said no to that," Leslie said. "Heather wants that diploma. She wants to walk across that stage because she did the same thing as everyone else. She was determined, independent and strong willed before the accident. I think that sheer determination has carried over. She's maintaining a 'B' average."
Heather said she now has an appreciation for everything since the accident.
"Never take for granted the things that God has given you the ability to do," she said. "I appreciate my family and friends, the ability to walk, to swallow, to talk and move because overnight things can change."
Heather plans to go to nursing school and wants to be a registered nurse.
Editor's note: Beating the Odds is a series published in the Amarillo Globe-News from May 10-24 designed to tell the stories of all kinds of students who are graduating despite the challenges they've faced. It is part of Celebrate Education, a program designed to bring awareness to the need of educational attainment in the Texas Panhandle. For previous stories, visit www.celebrateeducation.org.
Copyright 2008 Amarillo Globe-News :: Amarillo.com