Paralyzed Henrico student defies odds, walks across graduation stage

Positively Richmond

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Godwin High School senior Ryan Estrada walked across the stage to get his diploma. 

In 2017, Estrada was paralyzed in a car accident on the way to school. He suffered a broken neck and severe spinal cord injuries. 

Caroline Estrada told 8News when the accident happened all she could do was pray her son would keep breathing. 

Now a year and a half later, Ryan is doing something some thought he never would.

“It was definitely a lot of persevering you know putting your head down and just working,” Ryan said.

Ryan said when he was in the hospital he told his teacher he would walk again for graduation. He kept his word. 

However, Ryan admits that in the days leading up to graduation he felt nervous.

When graduation came around on June 11, Estrada walked across the Siegel Center stage and got a standing ovation as he received his diploma. 

“When I saw him getting ready to actually do this, the flood gates opened,” Caroline said. “I can’t explain to you the pride and the love and the relief that he was able to do this”

His peers roared with pride.

“People I never met would just come up to me and say like you never met me but you know I’m super proud of you and you inspire me,” Ryan said. “And it just warms my heart to hear that.”

His high school career may be over but a new chapter in his life has just begun.

“He’s come really far and he’s done a lot,” C. Estrada said. “But he’s not finished yet.”

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