NELSON — The crowd inside of the packed gymnasium went crazy Saturday afternoon as Ryan Kile lifted his left leg to move forward and accept his diploma during the Lawrence-Nelson Class of 2014’s graduation ceremony.
“It exceeded my expectations, with everyone clapping and yelling,” he said. “It really made me want to do a good job for everyone watching, but, man, that was terrible. My legs were shaking, and I couldn’t stop them. Once they finally stopped, I took that step and I was so relieved because I actually did it. I walked across the stage to get my diploma. It may not have been like everybody else, but to me it was a lifelong goal ever since I got hurt freshman year, and I accomplished it.”
Ryan, 18, was injured in a single-car rollover crash on April 28, 2011, in which he was thrown from the vehicle and his 12th vertebra was shattered.
He was one of three members of the Lawrence-Nelson golf team in the car on their way to Nelson to connect with the team and ride to a meet in Hastings.
His mother, Tina, said walking at graduation became a goal for Ryan while working on rehabilitation in the weeks following the crash at Craig Hospital in Englewood, Colo.
“The depth of pride that we have for him is just enormous and to hear the validation coming from the crowd from people who don’t even know him, because they were there for other graduates,” she said. “It’s humbling and truly touches us and inspires us to move on.”