GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Wellspring Preparatory High School junior Jacob Rodgers is slowly waking from a coma after an SUV hit him as he crossed a busy crosswalk Dec. 23.
Jacob's family told FOX 17 that he is making progress every day. His father, Jeff Rodgers, said Jacob is opening his eyes for longer periods and is moving his arms.
His school community said Jacob has always been the person who brings people together.
This week, Wellspring Prep is raising money for Jacob. Students are choosing not to wear their standard uniforms in exchange for making a donation of at least $10 to the Rodgers family.
“I just hope to God I get to teach him again, so much,” said Megan Altieri, Jacob's art teacher. “It’s every teacher’s dream to watch their kid fall in love with the content, but then when that’s taken away from them in some way, it’s heart wrenching."
Altieri said Rodgers found his calling. Rodgers drew a self-portrait, which is now posted in the school’s cafeteria next to a hopeful banner, full of student messages with the title reading, “We Love you Jake!”
Even in his hospital room, Altieri said she was touched to see Rodgers’ work hanging.
“It was definitely bittersweet, but seeing him and even just being able to hold his hand was a beautiful thing for me, and I’ll certainly never forget it,” said Altieri. “I just want the opportunity to tell him how much he means to me as a teacher.”
Principal Jessica Knoth said Jacob is the kind of person who makes everyone feel welcome.
Smiling, she recalled their last conversation. “He asked me, ‘Ms. Knoth, what are you going to do during winter break?’ And you think about a 16-year-old asking their principal what are they going to do, but that is just who he is: a genuine, caring individual who just cares about others."
Now the school looks to the future and sends Jacob strength.
“He’s such a great individual, independent but full of life,” said Jeff Rodgers. “I look forward to seeing him graduate from high school.”
Rodgers said Jacob was moved to another Spectrum facility in Grand Rapids that works with brain injuries. And then, with more progress, family hopes Jacob will move to Mary Free Bed for rehabilitation.
To make a donation to the Rodgers family, school officials ask that you walk your donation in into the Wellspring Preparatory High School front office located at 1031 Page Street NE, Grand Rapids.