PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) - Ana Wakefield, the local basketball player who survived a horrific hit-and-run crash that left her with a severe brain injury, graduated from her rehab program Thursday.
It’s been more than a year since the crash that nearly killed Wakefield last October. Since then, she’s fought to gain back skills like talking and walking.
“It’s just one miracle after another, to see where she was and to see what god has done in her life,” said Wakefield's grandmother, Ruth Clifford.
The 21-year-old stood tall and proud as she accepted her graduation certificate, while surrounded by her loved ones.
The former Multnomah University athlete never gave up the hope she’d be where she is today, even when the prognosis was grim.
“She was not expected to survive,” according to her grandfather, Pat Clifford. “We’ve seen her progress from being very disabled, moving from the wheelchair, to the walker, to the crutches, cane and so forth.”
The Cliffords say Wakefield's intensive five-month brain injury rehabilitation has given them back their granddaughter, and more.
“It’s built something into her that I think is remarkable.”
A fortitude and unwavering faith apparent to all who meet her.
“I shouldn’t have been making this good of a recovery, but I know prayers have been sent up for me… prayers to Jesus Christ and that is why I’m here and graduating right now,” Wakefield said.
The last few months have been grueling.
She underwent physical therapy, speech therapy and occupational therapy five days a week, relearning how to speak, walk and skip.
Ana says she found encouragement in others dealing with similar brain injuries at her rehab center.
“You just have to know what it is to be at ground zero and working all the way back up, and then you can truly relate to someone," she said.
She’s put in the work and with help from specialists at Progressive Rehabilitation Associates, Wakefield is ready to return to the life she once knew.
Her next goal is to get back behind the wheel of a car.
“We’re praying that I can pass my driving test tomorrow because I would love to be able to drive away from home. I love my family, but I think we can only stand so much of each other,” she said with a smile on her face.
Next semester Wakefield will return to Multnomah University and finish her degree program in business administration and bible theology.
She hopes to one day become a teacher.
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