CHELSEA, Ala. (WIAT) — Nine months after an accident left him relearning how to live everyday life, 14-year-old Eli Hairston has continued along the road to recovery.

Back in November, Hairston fell off a golf cart, suffering a traumatic brain injury. Due to the accident, he had to relearn how to walk and talk again.

On Thursday, he fulfilled a huge goal: walking into Chelsea High School for the first day of school. The first day of high school is a big deal for many, but for Eli, it was huge.

“I knew I could do it. Keep positivity around me,” Hairston said.

Parents Leisha and Jay Hairston said it’s amazing but not surprising of what their son continues to accomplish.

“It makes you not take anything for granted. Just appreciate life and we’re not promised tomorrow,” Leisha said.

Nine months ago, they didn’t know if Eli would have a tomorrow.

“At the beginning, it was like will he even make it through and once he did, we didn’t know what his quality of life would be,” Leisha said.

“Anytime the doctors had anything that was less than ideal to hear, I would say you’re looking at a patient, looking at a chart. I need you to look at the person. The person is different,” Jay Hairston said.

Eli has proven that. He is re-learning how to walk and talk again through constant physical therapy. Even when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, it didn’t stop him from finding a way to keep pushing.

“He has always had a positive attitude and pushed himself . He never wants to take the easy way,” Jay said.

From the day he arrived home to now, Eli has continued putting one foot in front of the other.
He did that on Thursday during his first day back at school.

“It’s made me for of a fighter and made me realize life is short and one thing can take away your life,” Eli said.

“He just works hard. He’s wired differently. God made him different and he has a drive in him that is pretty awesome and he’s showing that everyday,” Jay said.

Eli said his next goal is to independently use a walker with no one behind him by the one-year anniversary of his accident.


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