Community welcomes injured student athlete home
Posted December 22, 2010 9:18 p.m. EST
Updated December 25, 2010 8:31 p.m. EST
Rocky Mount, N.C. — Friends, classmates and teammates of an injured high school football player welcomed him home Wednesday from more than two months of grueling rehabilitation.
Colt Brake, 16, suffered a spinal cord injury during a football game in October that paralyzed him from the neck down.
Approximately 200 people gathered at the Brake home Wednesday, cheering "Colt! Colt! Colt!" as the Rocky Mount Academy junior returned for the first time since his injury.
His teammates were happy to see him.
"We were all just shocked at what happened," said Daniel Felton, one of Colt's teammates. "We couldn't believe it, but we just had to get through it and know that he's going to be alright."
Deon Alston, another teammate, was eager to see Colt return.
"I hope to see Colt back in town, back in RMA with us, back in class every day," he said.
Brake crushed his C4 vertebra and fractured his C5 vertebra while attempting to tackle a Parrott Academy player Oct. 8 . He is paralyzed from the neck down.
But after a stint at a spinal cord injury rehabilitation program at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta, Colt is determined to someday walk again.
"It was tough, but I stuck through it, and I just kept working hard. Did my best," Colt said.
The coach from Parrott Academy attended the homecoming to return Colt's jersey.
"I thought they lost it, and I was like, 'wow, how do you lose my jersey?' Colt said. "But it really surprised me the way they sewed it all up and gave it back to me."
Over the last few weeks, volunteers renovated the Brake family home to accommodate Colt's special needs. They built a carport, ramp and a deck equipped with a wheelchair lift.
Lisa Gennosa, a friend of the Brake family, came up with the idea. A local builder donated the materials.
"This is a major transition for them and we just want it to be as smooth as possible," Gennosa said. "We put everything in there that we think they're going to need and not have to worry about for a while. Everybody wanted to do something for them."
Colt's family is grateful for the community support.
"It really does help get you through each day, knowing you got so many people behind you," said Tammy Brake, Colt's mother.
His grandmother, Suzie Batts, hopes she'll still be here to see Colt win this fight.
"I truly believe he's going to walk again," she said.
Colt is getting stronger every day, and slowly regaining feeling in his arms. He'll be home for at least a month before returning to Atlanta for more therapy.