GLEN ROSE - On a cool February morning, Aaron McClelen, with assistance, took a stand and, with a huge grin on his face, lifted his hand up high and waved to the crowd gathered around him. This small action is a testament to the willpower and determination of the young man.
Prior to Saturday, Feb. 13, McClelen was used to being in front of a crowd. He was an offensive lineman for the Tolar Rattlers, but that all changed one night in September.
Just weeks into the new football season, McClelen was involved in a one-car accident caused by distracted driving. McClelen, who was at the wheel, took his eyes off the road for a few moments to look at a CD case. When he looked back up, he swerved to avoid a sign and ended up rolling his truck a multiple times.
McClelen was rushed to the hospital and told the devastating news - he was paralyzed from the waist down. While most people would be shook by the life-altering information, McClelen was determined that one day he would be back on his feet again.
After being released from the hospital, McClelen started rehab at Cook’s Children’s in Fort Worth. He was there for approximately two months before he transferred to Glen Rose Medical Center's outpatient therapy department in mid-November. McClelen now attends therapy five days a week for two and a half hours a day. He does all of this after school, as he is still in the process of completing his senior year at Tolar High School.
Even with the intense schedule, McClelen says that therapy is going well. The therapists who work with him say that he is a hard worker, well-motivated and has good attitude.
“One thing that has always stood out about A-Mac to us is that even if he is having a bad day, or not feeling it, he never shows it,” said Glen Rose Medical Center’s outpatient rehab director, Tammie Apodaca. “He’s always willing to do whatever we present to him and he gives it a 110 percent.”
Because of his dedication, McClelen has made strides in therapy.
Take the fact that he is now able to stand with assistance, for example. McClelen said that it felt weird the first time he stood up, but, judging from the smile on his face when he stood in front of the crowd prior to GRMC's Kickstart My Heart race, it doesn’t feel so weird anymore.
McClelen’s road to recovery is far from over. He will continue with therapy to build his strength and endurance. The next goal for him is to take steps again and the therapy department is in the process of obtaining equipment that will help him accomplish that.
To honor all of his hard work and progress he has made so far, McClelen was on hand to lead all of the runners out of the start line at Saturday's race held behind GRMC.
He was also presented with the “Fighting Heart” award, because of the positive attitude he has maintained through all the adversity over the course of his last five months. McClelen said it felt good to be honored at the event.
Eventually, McClelen would like to walk. Even though those steps will be with the help of special assistive devices, such as custom-made braces, McClelen said that there is no doubt in his mind that he will walk again.