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A step towards gold: Caiden Baxter’s story

In October of 2016, Caiden Baxter’s life changed in an instant.

The Niles teen was riding ATV’s with a friend when he was involved in an accident. There was a drop in the riding path and Caiden fell. The ATV landed on top of him.

Caiden was airlifted to the intensive care unit in Indianapolis.

Doctors originally thought his spinal cord was severed. But when doctors performed surgery, they found out that his spinal cord was severely compressed. His family was happy to learn that he eventually gained feeling in his knee.

“There’s tons of people in harder situations than I am in and they are still very positive,” said Caiden. “It shows me there’s no reason to be upset about any of this because I still have recovery and I am still alive.”

Caiden’s attitude after the accident is inspiring to everyone who knows him. While talking about his accident, he still has a smile on his face.

It’s one of the reasons that the Niles community and beyond rallied around him when he expressed interested in Project Walk.

One of his mentors, Feranmi Okanlami, posted on Facebook that he’s leaving for a rehab facility in California called Project Walk. It’s an activity-based rehab facility that focuses on patient’s human nervous system.

Caiden’s mother knew it was exactly what her son needed. They made a post on Facebook and within 24 hours, the family had enough money and support to sent Caiden and his mother to Los Angeles for a week.

For spring break, Caiden and his mom set out to California, ready to work hard.

“This trip hasn’t been a vacation,” said Caiden. “It’s been come to the gym, go to the hotel, sleep and eat. Then, come to the gym the next day and that’s all we’ve seen”

Lori says it was amazing to see her son working so hard and making progress in a short amount of time.

“They are pushing you to the limits,” said Lori Carey Baxter. “They are doing great things in South Bend, but here, he’s getting more of the weight training and a lot more risk.”

A risk that Caiden and his was family is willing to take. Caiden is working hard to reach his goal of walking unassisted by the time school starts in the fall.

Click here for Parts 1 and 2: Feranmi Okanlami's story

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