CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- A Myers Park High School senior will do something in eight days that just a few months ago, his parents thought they’d never see – he’s going to walk across the stage at his high school graduation.
Thomas Crain was nearly killed pulling out of his neighborhood onto N. Sharon Amity Road while on the way to school on February 23.
Firefighters had to cut Crain out of his car before Medic could take him to the hospital, where he stayed for the next 77 days. Many of those days were spent in a coma in the intensive care unit.
His mother Lucy Crain said doctors wouldn’t even give her a prognosis for Thomas’s traumatic brain injury, called a diffuse axonal injury. She said it’s like having tiny cuts all over the brain where the axons – nerve fibers that communicate to control speech, movement, and other body functions – can’t talk to each other.
“About ten percent of people with his injury regain consciousness,” said Lucy. It didn’t look good.
Friends and neighbors rallied, doing everything for the family.
"The neighborhood might not be huge but the support was huge,” said Lucy, “because they took care of all the details of my life so that my husband and I could just take care of Thomas."
Neighbors sold wristbands to raise money, and classmates in Myers Park High School’s DECA club organized a softball tournament Saturday. Students each paid $15 to participate.
“It really feels good to be part of something that's bigger than we are,” said Taylor Brookhouse, a DECA club member.
And Thomas Crain was there to throw out the first pitch.
“I really didn't expect this much support,” said Thomas. “It’s really great and I'm very thankful they did this.”
Sunday, the Crains threw a party for Thomas’s graduation and invited the whole neighborhood – to thank them for all of their help.
Lucy isn’t afraid to call the recovery a miracle, but talks about it with sadness too. Another neighbor lost his son last week after he was hit by a truck while riding his bike to school.
“It’s hard to say why some people get miracles and some people don't,” she said, trying to hold back her emotions. “That part of the terminology is hard -- when you get a miracle and somebody else who's praying for one didn’t get one. But I'm just grateful for ours today.”
She goes back to the friends and neighbors and classmates, who she said were an important part of Thomas’s recovery.
“People were praying for Thomas all over the country, so we had the power of friendship and the power of prayer and we beat the odds,” she said with a smile, “and we couldn’t have done it by ourselves.”