FORT MYERS, FL— Khalia Carter, a senior at Fort Myers High School, was only a month from graduating. She enjoyed cheerleader and just finished her final prom. But on April 18th, Khalia’s life changed forever. After hanging out with friends, she was struck by a motorcyclist on Cemetery Road in Buckingham, making her spin into the ditch. The motorcyclist had three times the legal limit of alcohol in their system at the time. The result of the accident was catastrophic.
“I was horrified. You can’t even imagine. Somebody had to help put the call through to call me to let me know that I needed to come right away because Khalia had been in an accident, and all I could hear is her screaming in the background,” said Khalia’s mom Shawnda Cook.
Khalia had severe brain swelling, which resulted in a concussion and mobility disorder. In other words, she had to relearn to be independent, including walk and other basic tasks. She regularly receives therapy at John Hopkins All Children’s in Fort Myers.
“It is kind of hard to do anything by myself now. I have to always have somebody there to help me, and I’m very independent, so I was always used to doing things by myself, but now I have to have so much help assisting me with everything,” said Khalia.
As a result of this tragic event, Khalia had to miss the rest of the school year, including all senior events. She planned to go to Georgia Southern University in the fall, however, that is not guaranteed after the accident. Despite all that she has gone through, she was determined to walk again for her graduation.
“I set that goal the day after this happened because I deserve it. 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,” said Khalia.
Fortunately, she has not been alone in her recovery. The support from friends and family has been tremendous, but one of her greatest supporters is her mother.
“Khalia pushes through. 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,” said Cook.
May 21st came and Khalia blew everyone away as she walked for her and her class’ graduation. Indeed, she walked across the stage and received her high school diploma.
“I was just excited. Not really nervous,” Khalia said. “I just wanted to do by myself and that’s all…We pushed through the journey and I accomplished a goal I wanted to do today,” she emphasized.
The day was not without worry from her family as she took each step, but the rejoicing was all the same.
“Khalia even on the weekends, Khalia got up. She did all her exercises and she deserves this. She deserves every bit of this,” Shawnda said. “We can’t believe this day finally came.” She could only describe the feeling with one word: overwhelming.
Khalia is excited about her next chapter of life. She has created two goals for herself when she completes her treatment: She wishes to start a charity to help other kids with head injuries and she wants to raise awareness for drunk driving.
Food for Thought
As unfortunate as this story was for Khalia and her family, they are fortunate she is still alive. Every day people are killed because of drunk drivers, and that can only be avoided if people do not drink and drive. One cannot control others, but being cautious and aware of other drivers is very important. Stay safe and drink responsibly.
Armstrong, S. (2022, May 5). Determined Fort Myers High Senior Learning to Walk Again Following Lee County Crash. FOX 4 Now. Retrieved May 26, 2022, from https://www.fox4now.com/news/local-news/lee-county/student-determined-to-walk-the-graduation-stage-after-a-traumatic-crash
Knapp, K. (2022, May 22). ‘I Accomplished a Goal’: Teen Walks Graduation Stage Following Lee County Crash. FOX 4 Now. Retrieved May 26, 2022, from https://www.fox4now.com/news/local-news/lee-county/i-accomplished-a-goal-ft-myers-teen-walks-across-graduation-stage-following-lee-county-crash
Ross, B. (2022, May 6). Fort Myers Student Hoping to Walk at Graduation After Crash Causes Traumatic Brain Injury. WINK NEWS. Retrieved May 26, 2022, from https://www.winknews.com/2022/05/05/fort-myers-student-hoping-to-walk-at-graduation-after-crash-causes-traumatic-brain-injury/
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