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School Program Helps Student Stay on Track

October 19, 2021

“I touch hope, hoping I find my legs once more. I am hardworking and a paraplegic.”

These words are from a poem written by 17-year-old Grayson Fox shortly after he was admitted to Craig following a car accident.

Last year, Grayson was a junior at Pomona High School in Arvada, Colorado, where he was playing football, wrestling, and was on the track team. He loves the competitive aspect of sports.

“It's always fun pushing myself and having that adrenaline rush,” says Grayson. “I’ve always loved that.”

In the classroom, he especially enjoys his math and science courses, hoping to become an aerospace engineer like his grandfather someday.

In early December, Grayson and a friend decided to get together to do homework. Shortly after picking him up, their car hit black ice and they lost control. The vehicle rolled over, crushing Grayson between the seat and roof. He tried to move but could not feel his legs.

When he woke up in the ICU, he intuitively knew he had sustained a spinal cord injury. His medical team confirmed his suspicion and told his family there was very little chance Grayson would walk again. A few days later, he underwent surgery, and after he was stabilized, he was transferred to Craig.

Soon after his admission, Grayson met with Laura Magnuson, the School Program teacher and coordinator. Laura contacted Grayson’s teachers to identify areas to focus on in his English, Precalculus and World History courses. She customized an academic program to build on his strengths, provide him with a sense of accomplishment, and keep him on track to graduate with his class.

Grayson with Craig teacher Laura Magnuson

The donor-funded School Program is part of Teen Rehab at Craig (TRAC), an adolescent-focused program that provides the opportunity for teen patients to interact and empower one another. Being around people his age facing similar challenges was helpful to Grayson.

“It was easy to talk to each other,” says Grayson. “We’re all going through the same thing, and it made it so much easier to get through it.”

As his discharge date approached, Laura organized a meeting with his parents, teachers, school counselor and school nurse. They discussed the comprehensive School Transition Plan Laura developed to ensure Grayson’s return to school was as seamless as possible. Laura also toured the school to make sure the entrance, lunchroom, bathrooms and his classrooms were accessible and included the necessary accommodations to ensure Grayson would have the same opportunities as his peers.

Grayson’s mother, Soni, felt that the School Program was very important to his recovery because school was one of the only things that didn’t really change following his injury. “We had to move out of our home, we had to change our lifestyle,” she says. “This was the one thing that helped bring some normalcy to our situation.”

After spring break, Grayson returned to in-person school two days a week. He’s now back in classes full-time and is on track to graduate with his class. He’s also participating in sports again, including wheelchair lacrosse and tennis. With the help of Craig’s adaptive driving training, Grayson is back behind the wheel.

As he enjoys his senior year back at school and looks towards college, he is grateful for the resources Craig offered to keep him on track.

“Laura made everything way more manageable,” he says. “It would have just been a madhouse to try to figure out everything on my own, so I think it was pretty awesome to have the school program.”

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“I Am” by Grayson Fox

Written during his inpatient stay at Craig

I am hardworking and a paraplegic

I wonder how long I have to wear this mask during rehab at Craig

I hear the agony of back pain and people wanting more movement

I see people trying their best to come back to life and becoming more independent

I want to go home and be myself again, enjoying life to the fullest

I am hardworking and a paraplegic

I pretend as if everything is okay even though this sucks

I feel the cold aluminum of my chair’s wheel constantly sliding through my fingers

I touch hope, hoping I find my legs once more

I worry about how my friends will look at me and treat me

I cry when reaching rock bottom, realizing life is now a mystery

I am hardworking and a paraplegic

I understand the position that I am in and I’ve accepted it

I say and believe I’ll be able to come back alive

I dream to look at my dad face to face physically and mentally

I try to make myself whole again

I hope to stay a role model for my sister

I am hardworking and a paraplegic