West Michigan communities raise money for recently paralyzed high schooler

Posted at 7:31 PM, Sep 19, 2014
and last updated 2014-09-19 20:49:17-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Eathan Callihan, 15, of Freeport, was recently paralyzed in a pool accident mid-August. A freshman at Thornapple Kellogg High School, Eathan said he is determined to become independent again.

Loved ones in Grand Rapids organized a benefit sale for Eathan. The sale is being held Saturday at 1023 Ferris NW on Saturday, for its third day, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Organizers said clothing and other goods will be half off, and they are also accepting donations. Several local businesses have already made donations, and a raffle will be held.

Now Eathan laughs and smiles with his favorite therapist, Star, at Mary Free Bed, just five weeks after he became paralyzed when he injured his spinal cord diving into a friend’s pool. At least three times each day, he works hard at physical therapy, with his mother and loved ones by his side, regaining his strength.

“You’re going to therapy and you can’t feel anything that you did before,” said Eathan. “So if you try to use your hands you can’t.”

Eathan said he enjoys social studies and science best, and would like to become a mechanic.

“(I want to) become independent from a wheelchair and be able to move independently through everything,” said Eathan.

Eathan’s mother Becky Callihan told FOX 17 her family is in awe of the community. She said their hometown of Freeport organized a dinner event that helped raise about $30,000 for their endless bills and medical needs.

“We live in a farmhouse that has three bedrooms upstairs,” explained Becky. “So we have to put on an addition downstairs. And then Tammy and her friend are putting on this other event and together just them two have raised almost five.”

Eathan and his mother smiled when they said they “choose joy for boy”: “Boy” being Eathan’s nickname for as long as they can remember.

“It can turn your life upside down, but we’re all staying joyful and we’re all hoping,” said Becky.

Now Eathan too said he wants to give back.

“I want to help the community out,” said Eathan. “They did a lot for me, so I want to return the favor.

For more information, and if you would like to help, see Eathan’s donation page here.