HILLIARD, Ohio (WCMH) — An Ohio high school athlete has made an inspiring comeback from a swimming accident last year.
In July, Hilliard Bradley freshman Grady Way was enjoying his last summer before starting high school and playing on the Jaguars’ football team. But, a headfirst dive into his family’s pool changed his life forever.
“Sunny day, per usual. I was in the pool in the back, I went to get a football, threw it to my dad, I dove and when I was in the water I couldn’t move,” Grady said.
Several seconds passed and Grady didn’t come up from the bottom of the pool, so his dad dove in to pull him out.
“When he came out of the water, I could see the look on his face that he was terrified,” Grady’s mother Dena Way said.
Grady fractured his neck at the C5/C6 vertebrae and suffered a spinal cord contusion.
“They told my parents there was a good chance I’d be in a wheelchair the rest of my life,” he said.
Grady’s parents decided not to tell him there was a 70% chance he’d never walk again.
“My idea was always that I’m going to recover and be able to walk again, so I feel like that would have diminished my drive to get better if I would have known that,” Grady said.
A 10-hour surgery stabilized his spinal cord, but it was just the start of his 10-week stay at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.
“It was just like little steps every day that helped me be where I am now,” Grady said.
Eventually, those little steps turned into actual steps with plenty of hurdles along the way.
“There’s a lot of days you don’t want to do it, but it’s like everyday life,” Grady said. “Grownups don’t want to go to work but you gotta do what you gotta do to get better.”
A week after walking out of the hospital, Grady walked across the Bradley football field for homecoming.
“Watching him walk across that 50-yard line . . . in my heart I believe we had a miracle,” Dena said.
Two weeks ago, he defied the odds again. Grady ran the 100-meter dash at the Hilliard Tri-Meet with his brother, Griffin, who ran alongside him. Grady put 100 meters, and the last 10 months, behind him with his sights set on what lies ahead.
“I probably have another year of substantial growth and there will be bits and pieces from there but right now I’m just focused on being the best that I can be,” Grady said. “The best is yet to come.”