MARYSVILLE — For the first time since the accident that left him paralyzed from the chest down, Nic Trout returned to Marysville Pilchuck High School.
Nic, 16, wheeled himself under his own power Thursday into the gym wearing his No. 74 Tomahawk football jersey. About 1,200 students stood, clapped and cheered.
“I’m just glad that everyone could help me be here and for all the support,” Nic said after the assembly.
The teen was injured March 10 after he fell down a 35-foot embankment while riding a motorized dirt bike with friends in an off-road area near Mount Vernon.
The Lake Stevens boy suffered fractures in his left shoulder, sternum and ribs in addition to being paralyzed.
He’s been in the hospital since the accident.
At the end of the assembly, friends, football teammates and other classmates crowded around Nic. Many hugged him. Some couldn’t hold back their tears.
Marysville Pilchuck senior Jordan Hoorn, 17, has played football with Nic since they were both in elementary school. He’s visited his friend several times at the hospital and is looking forward to him coming home.
“It was great for everyone to see Nic,” Jordan said. “I think it’s a good way to accept him back.”
And that was the point of Thursday’s assembly, Principal Andrew Frost explained. It was a way for Nic to see his old classmates and for them to see him. Frost told Nic and his family that the students and teachers look forward to seeing him return to school in the fall.
“We’re so proud of you and what you have been able to overcome to get to this point,” Frost said.
As part of the assembly, motivational speaker Barry Long of Talk &Roll Enterprises spoke to the students so that they could understand a little about what Nic’s going through.
Long was paralyzed from the chest down in a motorcycle accident on Feb. 10, 1991. He was 22 at the time. He was driving 100 mph in Portland, Ore., when he attempted to pass four cars. The last car he was trying to pass turned left and hit the back tire of his motorcycle. He fell off a cliff, hit his back on a cement block of stairs and shattered his spine.
The accident was a result of a choice he made, Long said. A much better choice he made that day was to wear a helmet.
“Because of that choice, I didn’t get a brain injury,” Long said. “Even though I’m paralyzed from the chest down … I’m still the same person I was before the crash. Basically, all I am is a little shorter than I used to be.”
Since the accident, Long has continued to live his life as fully as possible — something he has urged Nic to do as well. He told the assembly he has crowd surfed at concerts and bungee jumped in his wheelchair. He enjoys sports like snow and water skiing as well as biking.
Ryan Trout, Nic’s father, said Long and Nic have talked a few times at the hospital and Long has become his son’s mentor. Ryan Trout said American Medical Response brought his son free of cost for the assembly from Seattle Children’s Hospital to the school and back to the hospital.
His son could head home in late June as long as his rehabilitation continues to go well. Almost $15,000 has been raised so far to help the family buy a wheelchair-accessible van. Nic plans to attend a dinner, comedy show and silent auction fundraiser planned for 6 p.m. June 2 at Gleneagle Golf Course in Arlington.
Ellen Marie Fields, Nic’s great-grandmother, called it wonderful to see the support on Thursday for Nic.
“Nic’s a determined kid,” said Fields, 81. “Whenever he’s made up his mind to do something, he’s done it.”
After the assembly, Nic talked about what he would like to do in life. One of those things is to go skydiving.
“I never thought this could happen to me,” he said. “I think right now I can do everything that I did before. The wheelchair is just about accessibility.”
Amy Daybert: 425-339-3491; firstname.lastname@example.org.
How to help Nic
A dinner, comedy show and silent auction fundraiser is planned for 6 p.m. June 2 at Gleneagle Golf Course, 7619 Country Club Drive, Arlington. Tickets can be bought for $20 per person through www.helptroutfamily.com. Donations for Nic’s recovery can also be made there. A Facebook donation page has been set up along with a Trout Family Recovery Fund at any Chase Bank branch.