October 22, 2019 09:33 PM
BROCKPORT — Something remarkable happened at Brockport High School on Friday night... A 17-year old cheerleader, critically injured in a car crash did something no one thought would be possible just a few weeks ago. Ayanna Herrold walked out on the football field with her parents to celebrate senior night.
It was just after 8 a.m. on August 1, 2017 when 17-year old Ayanna Herrold was driving along the Lake Ontario State Parkway. She wasn’t texting or speeding but somehow her car went off the road and struck a number of trees. “I don't remember any of it,” Ayanna tells News10NBC. Her injuries put her into an immediate coma. A nurse traveling behind her saw the crash and pulled over to help. A NYS trooper also happened to be seconds away. “I told both of them they must have been my guardian angels that day,” Ayanna says.
Ayanna credits the nurse and the trooper with saving her life but her recovery has been excruciating. She was in a coma for a week, when she woke up her entire left side was in paralysis from a traumatic brain injury. Over the past ten weeks, she has spent hundreds of hours in therapy trying to regain her speech and the use of her left arm and leg.
“I am proud of myself... just as a young girl going from being able to do everything I wanted, to needing pretty much help for everything, It's quiet difficult but it gets better, I went from being in a coma to now being able to talk to you and walk and sit in a normal chair and that in and of itself makes me happy,” she says.
Before the crash, Ayanna was a competitive cheerleader. Her Brockport High School teammates -- and even cheerleaders from across the state that she’s never met -- have been sending their support. It inspires her to keep pushing, “I just remember that I don't want to be stuck in a wheelchair for the rest of my life and I want my arm to work again and I also remember that I have a lot of people supporting me and I don't want to let them down,” Ayanna tells News10NBC.
That spirit and determination has motivated Ayanna to get back up on her feet and her hard work paid off on Friday when she walked out onto the football field for senior night. “It's a glimpse at normality again. I get to do my senior night like I would have done if I was actually in school and I get to pretend that the accident never happened for a couple of minutes,” she says.
Ayanna still has a long-road ahead of her, she’s unsure what issues she will face from her traumatic brain injury. "We don’t completely know yet because I’m still getting better and this injury takes about two to three years to fully heal from and I’ve only been at it for about two months,” she says but she is determined to graduate from high school on time with her classmates this June.
Herrold is proud of her accomplishment and so are people close to her -- like her coach.
Kristen Green says, "I actually knew she was going to walk again. I didn't actually lose faith at all because she is one of the toughest athletes I've ever come across, so if anybody's going to do it, it's going to be her."
Her best friend Lindsay Allen and her family cheered the loudest as Herrold took her first steps.
"I've been there along the way and I've seen her steps of progress and it's such an amazing journey and I'm just so proud of her," she says.
Even Allen's younger sister says Herrold's ordeal has taught her an important lesson. "It taught me that life can change in an instant and it can always be worse," says Olivia Allen.
Ayanna says she doesn't know what challenges she will face in the future, but she's determined to graduate on-time with her class in June.
Updated: October 22, 2019 09:33 PM
Created: October 13, 2017 06:14 PM
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