PRINCE GEORGE, Va. - A father made the final steps in his career Saturday, as he crossed the stage to accept his diploma. It was a walk that doctors didn’t think he would be able to make.
Six years after he was paralyzed in a car accident, Adam Shelton graduated summa cum laude from ECPI University.
"After the accident, they said, 'he'll probably never walk again,’" Shelton recalled Saturday at the Siegel Center. "It took a lot of dedication, walking every day in pain, it was really tough."
In July 2011, Shelton was driving home from Virginia Beach when his car hydroplaned, flipped eight times, and landed on top of him.
He spent months in a hospital bed, and was told that he would likely never walk again, but he was determined to prove that diagnosis wrong.
Now, after years of physical therapy, Shelton can walk without assistance.
Before the accident, Shelton had a steady job at a loading dock in Chester, but his injuries prevented him from returning to that line of work. With his son, Gavin, to provide for, Shelton decided to go to college.
"I was scared of school, before my accident I was scared of it,” Shelton said. “After my accident, I was still scared of it because I figured I was going to fail and I'm not good failing anything."
Saturday, Shelton made the final few steps of his college career across the stage at the Siegel Center to receive his diploma. His son Gavin and his parents were in the bleachers, beaming.
Considering all he's been through over the past six years, Shelton said he's still waiting for the moment to sink in. He also hopes Gavin appreciates the hard work his diploma represents, both at school and out of the classroom.
"He may be too young right now to see it, but once he gets older and sees where dad was to where dad is now, that'll mean the world to me,” Shelton said. “That's what this whole story is about.”
"It's just a first step in my goals that I've achieved, and I've got plenty more to go after this."