Fort Myers student hoping to walk at graduation after crash causes traumatic brain injury

Published: May 5, 2022 3:48 PM EDT
Updated: May 6, 2022 10:13 AM EDT

A Southwest Florida high school senior is fighting to walk on her own to get her diploma. Khalia Carter was hit by a drunk driver last month and was left with a traumatic brain injury.

The brain injury means she has to relearn how to do everything independently, including walking.

Khalia Carter

A month ago, Khalia Carter was like any other high school senior. She was a cheerleader at Fort Myers High School and had just gone to her senior prom. She was excited to graduate, but everything changed in the blink of an eye.

“I was horrified. You can’t even imagine. Somebody had to help put the call through to call me to let me know that I needed to come right away because Khalia had been in an accident, and all I could hear is her screaming in the background,” said Khalia’s mom Shawnda Cook.

On April 18, Khalia was driving home from hanging out with friends. The crash report that the family shared says a motorcyclist who had three times the legal limit of alcohol in their blood hit her, causing her car to spin out of control and land in a ditch on Cemetery Road in Buckingham.

“Khalia, in turn, has had some brain swelling. She was diagnosed with a head concussion and mobility disorder. She’s in therapy every day,” said Cook.

“It is kind of hard to do anything by myself now. I have to always have somebody there to help me, and I’m very independent, so I was always used to doing things by myself, but now I have to have so much help assisting me with everything,” said Khalia.

Khalia has to relearn how to walk and is receiving therapy at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Outpatient Care in Fort Myers. She had to miss the rest of the school year and the rest of her senior year events.

There is one thing she refuses to miss out on. Khalia says she will walk across the stage for graduation.

“I set that goal the day after this happened because I deserve it. I deserve to graduate so I knew that this car crash wasn’t going to stop me from doing that so I just told my mom I’m just going to push even harder now so that I don’t have to use my walker or my wheelchair to walk across the stage. Maybe I can do it myself but either way, I’m still going to walk across the stage to graduate,” said Khalia.

“Khalia pushes through. She has the most positive attitude and she is such a strong girl so I know whatever she puts her mind to she can do it,” said Cook.

Khalia is working hard and tackling therapy every day. Not just for graduation day, but for every day after too.

“I know I am going to be ok. I know I am going to be able to do everything by myself again,” said Khalia.

Khalia said once she’s better, she wants to start a charity to help other kids with head injuries.

Her mom said Khalia planned to head off to Georgia Southern University in the fall but right now that’s up in the air.

As for graduation day on May 21, WINK News will be sure to bring you pictures and videos when Khalia accomplishes her goal and walks across that stage.