Determined senior completes memorable grad walk

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When Alaina Goodwin walked across the stage to receive her diploma from Canton High School during last Friday evening’s graduation ceremony, she reached a goal that she has worked toward since suffering a rare stroke in August of 2016.

Alaina Goodwin accepts her CHS diploma. (Mike Barucci photo)

Alaina Goodwin accepts her CHS diploma. (Mike Barucci photo)

The stroke affected the T4 vertebra in her spine, leaving her unable to move her legs. Last fall, Goodwin was transferred from Boston Children’s Hospital to the spinal cord injury floor at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital and then returned home on November 11. A few days before graduating, she spoke about the experiences of the last several months of her life.

“It’s going really well,” Goodwin said of her recovery. “I go to therapy five times a week. I currently walk with crutches. I can free walk. I’ve come a long way. All my muscles are fully functional. I’m pretty lucky.”

In October she had some muscle movement from her hip flexors down to her toes in both legs and feet. She now has therapy twice a week at a Spaulding Rehabilitation facility in Quincy and three times a week at Journey Forward on Shawmut Road in Canton, where she works for two hours at a time. She entered the CHS ceremony walking with crutches. When it was time to pick up her diploma, she walked with her specialist from Journey Forward, holding his hand for safety purposes.

“Alaina has been attending Journey Forward for about seven months now and has made tremendous progress in that time,” said Dan Cummings, president and founder of Journey Forward. “She first came through our doors bound to a wheelchair and is now able to walk with the assistance of crutches. Alaina is a determined young girl who works very hard, and her hard work is clearly paying off!”

Goodwin did not attend classes this year at CHS while she was working on recovering. Instead, she was tutored at home and completed the coursework she needed to meet graduation requirements. “I’ve been looking forward to this day since the day I started Canton High School,” she said. “I’m excited. It’s going to be a great night for us. I’m glad to be walking.”

Being tutored at home meant that she did not see her classmates regularly, except for her twin sister, Darria, and her close friends. Attending the CHS senior prom May 25 helped to fill that void. “It was so much fun,” she said. “It was a great way to catch up.”

Goodwin will take the next year off to continue working on her recovery. She plans to study nursing at Salve Regina University in the fall of 2018.

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