Paralyzed teen's recovery hits the slopes - 13 WTHR Indianapolis

Paralyzed teen's recovery hits the slopes

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Brad Humphrey skied the slopes of Breckenridge during Ski Spectacular. Brad Humphrey skied the slopes of Breckenridge during Ski Spectacular.
Humphrey was a tennis player at Attucks High School before he was injured. Humphrey was a tennis player at Attucks High School before he was injured.
Humphrey and his mother were in the crowd when a stage collapsed at the Indiana State Fair. Humphrey and his mother were in the crowd when a stage collapsed at the Indiana State Fair.
BRECKENRIDGE, Colo. -

An Indianapolis teenager paralyzed in the State Fair stage collapse isn't letting anything get in the way of his recovery.

Brad Humphrey loves to play his violin. It takes him away from it all.

"It's really beautiful here, with the mountains and everything. The snow," Humphrey said. "We don't ever have this much snow back home. We definitely don't have any mountains, so it's all pretty."

Breckenridge, Colorado is a world away from Indianapolis. One thousand miles, to be exact.

School is always in session for Humphrey. At 18 years old, he's relearning things most of us take for granted.

Life threw him an unexpected curve when he was paralyzed from the chest down in the stage collapse at the State Fair August 13.

"It's just the endurance. To be out here for an hour at a time and constantly moving, it's a lot of work," said ski instructor Anjalee Forber Pratt.

Every single day is now much different.

"They have been hard. Learning how to do different things."

Brad's mother, Sue, was at the concert, watching from the grandstands.

"I noticed a lot of people like to relive it. We are the two that want to move on. You have to move on and change your life a little bit," she said.

The Humphreys are moving forward one day at a time.

On a perfect winter day in Colorado, wheelchairs are left behind. Wounded war veterans use adaptive ski gear to experience freedom.

Humphrey was invited to come along to the Ski Spectacular - men and women with every disability you can imagine. It is a week-long bonding experience.

If laughter is the best medicine, the top doctor in America is Pratt, a Paralympic ski instructor.

"It's important to meet other people with disabilities. That's how you learn to be an advocate for yourself, through events like this," Pratt said.

Pratt and Humphrey had an instant bond.

"He is such a great kid and it takes a lot of guts to come to an event like this so soon after an injury and to just jump in head first with everything that's going on. He is a great kid. I have really enjoyed getting to know him," Pratt said.

After a few days on the slopes, the skiing became secondary, as the door opened for deeper conversations.

"The other night at dinner, we talked about how to modify a car. He is a 17-year-old kid, he wants to be out driving with his friends, I get that, but he didn't know about the different types of accommodations that are out there, so we were able to have a great discussion about what might work for you," Pratt said.

"It's hard, but it's a lot of fun," Humphrey said.

A week in paradise, surrounded by positive people living with disabilities, Brad has a new outlook on his daily challenge.

"I am taking away that there's nothing that holds me back. I can do anything I want," he said.

"I know Brad is going to do fine. I was worried, 'What am I going to do when he starts college next year?' But now, it's like, 'He is going to do fine'," said Sue Humphrey. "He will do wonderful."

One challenge at a time, Brad is learning no mountain is too high to conquer.

Humphrey will graduate from Attucks High School in June, then wants to attend Purdue University for his undergrad and then Indiana University to become a dentist.

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