Paralysed teen walks at graduation

Patrick Ivison
Patrick Ivison: Hardships we face are not accidents

Patrick Ivison chose positivity

Like many other high schoolers in America, Patrick Ivison celebrated his graduation by walking across the stage to collect his diploma.

However, unlike his peers, for 17 year old Patrick, the walk itself was as big an accomplishment as graduating high school, because Patrick is quadriplegic.

Patrick was 14 months old and was walking with his mother, Jennifer, when the driver of a car in the parking lot they were crossing suddenly reversed and hit Patrick.

When Jennifer managed to get her son from under the car, he was limp and turning blue. A passerby had, the previous week, done a refresher course on infant CPR and was able to revive Patrick, who was then flown to San Diego Children’s Hospital.

Patrick was stabilised and taken to surgery. It wasn’t until several days later that Jennifer learnt Patrick’s spinal cord was damaged.

On their website,, Jennifer says, “Since day one we realised we were given a second chance and that it would not be wasted wondering what if or what could have been.”

One Christmas, Jennifer took Patrick and his younger sister Samantha to see ‘Santa Claus’. Samantha asked him to make her brother walk again. Not wanting her to be disappointed, Patrick said, “Don’t say that.”

A few minutes later the family passed two other men in wheelchairs. The men approached them again as they headed to the car.

Discussing wheelchair sports, one of them asked if they had heard of Project Walk, a “spinal cord injury recovery facility” in California.

Jennifer looked up the website and realised that her daughter’s Christmas wish was not as impossible as she had thought; many clients were learning to walk again.

However, not only did this require long, painful treatment, it was very expensive. A friend suggested starting a fundraising campaign and ‘Help Patrick Walk’ began.

The family was going to go on a holiday to Hawaii as a gift from The Dream Factory, but Patrick asked to go to Project Walk for six weeks instead. They began seeing immediate improvement and have been with the Project ever since.

Patrick has been active in wheelchair sports, half-marathons and his favourite pastime, surfing. But it was his determination to walk again, as well as his faith, that kept him going through years of physical therapy.

Of his injury, Patrick says, “I could have responded with bitterness and resentment, or determination and positivity. When I was injured, God was challenging me to make the decision between the two. I am in a unique opportunity to use my situation to help others see the glory of God. I accepted the challenge and chose positivity and it is my goal to focus my efforts and abilities on His plan.”

Patrick grew up attending church, but only went to avoid arguments, and would rush to play video games or hang out with his friends as soon as he got home.

Then he started meeting people with whom he had things in common, who were also strong Christians.

“I had had a misconception of devoted Christians, thinking that religion and prayer was their only focus and passion in life. When I met surfers and artists who were Christians and expressed their faith through their lifestyles it encouraged me to take that next step in accepting God into my life,” Patrick explains.

“I believe that God sent His only son to die for our sins. When Jesus was on this earth He provided us with lessons and ideals that were the true path to heaven. It is our job to take those lessons to heart and apply them in our lives so that we may glorify God.

Philippians chapter 4, verse 13 says ‘I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.’ I take this to mean that the Lord will not magically fulfil our dreams but rather give us the spiritual tools and strength to do it. I also believe that hardships we face are not accidents.”

It would be easy for Patrick to be satisfied with his efforts at school and learning to walk again, but he says “I’ve noticed that I have habits or routines that are good and positive, but fulfil my needs and wants rather than His. I’m making a conscious effort to include God in even the smallest aspects of my life.”

Patrick has been accepted to the University of Southern California Film School and hopes to be able to live independently in the near future.

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