“Choose joy for Boy”: After months of therapy, Freeport teen heads home

Posted at 3:09 PM, Nov 28, 2014
and last updated 2014-11-28 15:09:42-05

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – After months in rehabilitation, a Freeport teen is going home.

Fox 17 first brought you Eathan Callihan’s story after a swimming pool accident left him paralyzed mid-August.

Then in October, family said Eathan was nearly sent home weeks too early, without proper transportation for him and his wheelchair.

“I’m going home so that’s all that matters,” said Eathan.

Eathan, 15, is now called “the graduate” at Mary Free Bed. After more than three months of hard work in therapy, several hours each day, Eathan and his family are packing up and heading home on Saturday.

One of several therapists smiling at Eathan’s send-off on Friday said, “Eathan has come a long way, especially in his attitude for sure. I remember when he first got here, Eathan was very quiet. Now Eathan, you’re not so quiet anymore.”

Eathan, therapists and his family laughed and recalled jokes between the staff.

Gaining strength back in his arms and hands wasn’t easy, but Eathan is determined. His halo was removed weeks ago, and he is now strong enough to push his own wheelchair.

His next goal is to be back at school by the New Year.

“For the next couple of months I want to go back to school,” said Eathan. “And the next couple of years, I want to be able to work on cars.”

During rehab, two busloads of fellow Thornapple Kellogg High School students surprised Eathan. His mother Becky Callihan said their hometown of Freeport has raised thousands of dollars for his medical support.

“We get prayers every day,” said Becky. “They’re supporting every single thing; they have been there all along. Rumor has it: they’re supposed to be lining the roads between I-96 and our house for our welcome home.”

Becky read a poem she wrote, looking ahead to their ongoing road to recovery. She said those who know Eathan believe he will overcome the challenges.

“For his life will go on, and he will surely do great things, because he was created by the King of all kings,” said Becky.

Becky said this Saturday, as they drive home around 2 p.m., neighbors in their Freeport community said they will be welcoming Eathan. Some told Becky they will be possibly lining the roads from I-96 to their home.

The Callihan’s are also raising money for medical equipment for Eathan, like a lift for their home. For more information, or to help, here is a link to their GoFundMe account.