WINSTON-SALEM– In a split second, your entire world can change forever. When you’re only 15, it just doesn’t make sense.
Hank Allen was a diver and swimmer at West Forsyth High School. He was paralyzed after an accident on a trampoline. Now he’s fighting towards recovery.
Hank said he’s a part of the guarded trampolining or “g-tramp” community, which is a group of young people who perform and record different moves on the trampoline.
He told FOX8 he understood the dangers of the sport, but he never thought it could happen to him.
“It was a trick I had already done. I was tucked in a ball doing a triple-rotating back flip,” Hank said.
But on Tuesday, June 9, it wasn’t diving that Hank was practicing when he injured his spinal cord.
“The second the incident happened, I kind of realized I couldn’t really feel the whole lower part of my body from my pecks down,” Hank said. “That’s when I kind of just realized that this is it.”.
He landed on his neck, injuring his C5 and C6 vertebra, leaving him paralyzed from the chest down.
“It was the hardest thing to figure out, find the words, to tell our son that the surgery was not corrective. It was really meant to stabilize so that further injury did not happen,” said Abby Allan, Hank’s mother.
Hank is now learning a new game. This time, it’s how to navigate and accept his limited capabilities.
“It’s just the simple things like walking down the aisle or playing with your kids later on down the road, and I think kids don’t see that when they’re younger,” Hank said.
While close to 600 people have donated to a GoFundMe created for him to help with medical bills, there’s still a long journey ahead.
The recovery is not only painful emotionally. It’s also a financial burden for the family.
“We wanted to get him down to Shepherds Center in Atlanta, but it’s about $6,500 a day. And we’re talking a minimum of 42 days,” Abby said.
This Friday, East Coast Wings and grill in Winston-Salem will be holding a fundraiser to help the family with medical bills.
The Allen family hopes to have Hank transferred out of state soon for a longer-term rehab facility.
Hank said he is hoping his accident makes people in his g-tramp community understand the dangers of the sport.
“I think that the danger that this brings is kids are starting to push the limits of what’s possible, and that’s where a lot of risk come in, and kids are starting to get hurt,” he said.
Despite the fear surrounding his prognosis, Hank remains hopeful.
“The fact that I’m still here today is what keeps pushing me to progress and heal. I want people to understand that even if they have bad accidents or something bad happens to them like this, that their life isn’t over. It’s just the beginning of a new one,” he said.
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