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Comeback-Athlete-Kate

Comeback Athlete of the Year - Kate Euart

School: Christ the King School
Sport: Gymnastics
Grade: Third
Team: Buckhead Gymnastics
Injury/disorder: Broken right elbow
Quote: “I was always moving. I felt like gymnastics was a good sport for me since I always love doing handstands and cartwheels.”

  • Kate’s favorite gymnastics event is the floor routine. She was injured while practicing on the balance beam.
  • Kate has a basset hound named Cody, the Euart family’s second dog. She looked up tips on convincing parents to get a dog online before her parents, Tamsin and Jef, agreed.
  • Kate did ballet dancing before gymnastics but did not think it was active enough.

For Kate Euart, ballet didn’t involve enough cartwheels.

Gymnastics, however, is a perfect fit for the active 9-year-old who started on a dance floor. Kate took right to the sport at age 4, enjoying the freedom to jump, flip, run and dance.

“I just like to move how I want to,” Kate said. “Gymnastics is definitely more exciting to me.”

Training and competing at Buckhead Gymnastics, Kate committed herself to regular practices and meets. Gymnastics became part of her routine.

‘A New Feeling’

While practicing on the beam in April 2012, Kate over-rotated a handstand and fell to the mat, injuring her right arm.

“I had never broken a bone before,” Kate said. “I knew it was a new feeling. I kind of knew I had broken something. I was scared.”

Kate’s parents, Jef and Tamsin, were at their son’s baseball game when they received a call from the coaches at the gym. They rushed to pick Kate up and brought her to the Emergency Department at Scottish Rite hospital.

“You just don’t know what to expect,” Tamsin said. “You never want to see your child get hurt, especially doing something she loves.”

Diagnosis and Treatment

An X-ray helped Allan Peljovich, M.D., M.P.H., Medical Director of the Children’s Hand and Upper Extremity Program, confirm that Kate had broken her right elbow. Kate had to be put to sleep so Dr. Peljovich could adjust her arm into the right position and cast it.

Kate wore the cast for about six weeks, which was quicker than her parents expected. Fortunately, Kate had her age working for her.

“Children tend to heal much quicker than grown-ups,” Dr. Peljovich said. “We can get them out of a cast a little bit sooner and get them to rehab a little sooner, especially these young athletes that want to get back as quickly as they can.”

After the cast came off, Kate went to physical therapy at Children’s twice a week for about two months. The strengthening exercises she did, like pushups and lifting weight balls, helped her get ready to return to gymnastics.

“She would do an exercise for a period of time and then they would move on,” Jef said. “It was very rapid fire, one exercise to the next, gradually working her strength up.” 

Back on the Mat

Once Kate was physically ready to return to gymnastics, she had to get ready mentally. She missed the fun and camaraderie of her gymnastics team, but she was worried about reinjuring her elbow.

After talking about it with her parents, Kate returned to the gym.

“I thought about how fun it would be to do it again,” Kate said. “I knew I loved it. I was definitely cautious about it because the doctors said to be careful.”

In her first meet back, Kate had to perform a handstand on the beam. With the rest of the events completed, everyone’s attention was on Kate as she nailed her routine.

“It felt like I had a lot of pressure on me, like the whole world was staring at me,” Kate said. “I was very happy that I made the handstand and was very happy that I didn’t fall.”

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“Children tend to heal much quicker than grown-ups,” said Allan Peljovich, M.D., M.P.H., Medical Director of the Children’s Hand and Upper Extremity Program. “We can get them out of a cast a little bit sooner and get them to rehab a little sooner, especially these young athletes that want to get back as quickly as they can.”

1 related videos

Comeback Athlete Kate EuartView

Gymnastics is a perfect fit for Kate, an active 9-year-old who started on a dance floor. She took right to the sport at age 4, enjoying the freedom to jump, flip, run and dance. But, while practicing on the beam in April 2012, Kate over-rotated a handstand and fell to the mat. An X-ray showed that she had a broken elbow.






Comeback-Athlete-Sophia

May Comeback Athlete Sophia Guldberg

School: Walton High School
Team: Walton Raiders
Sport: Tennis
Grade: 10th
Injury/disorder: Spondylolisthesis
Quote: “I’m always ready to be out there on the court. Sometimes I may want a day off. But if I have more than that, I get a little jumpy not having anything to do. I have to be out there doing something."

  • Sophia plays No. 2 doubles for her high school team.
  • Sophia and the Walton Raiders won the Class AAAAAA state championship on May 11 by beating Peachtree Ridge 3-2.
  • On top of tennis and spending time with friends, Sophia likes to play the piano in her free time.

Sophia Guldberg is all about control on the tennis court.

With a pinpoint serve and a punishing forehand, she is able to chase her opponents all over the court. That feeling of action and control is what initially attracted her to the sport.

“There is always something going on,” the rising junior at Walton High School said. “You don’t have to sit for entire innings or parts of games. You get to control what is going on.”

When lower back pain turned into a serious condition, Sophia had to give up control of her athletic career and trust the physicians and therapists at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.

A Surprise Diagnosis

Sophia began experiencing lower back pain in February 2011. Several months later, that pain turned into numbness and tingling in her legs. When her parents took her to get an X-ray, they weren’t expecting anything serious.

“We were expecting to go in and get a prescription for physical therapy,” Sophia’s mother, Tina Guldberg, said. “Instead, we walked out needing to schedule a surgery.”

Robert W. Bruce Jr., M.D., Medical Director, Orthopaedic Neuromuscular Program, diagnosed Sophia with spondylolisthesis, a genetic spine deformity in which a vertebra slips out of position. By the time she was diagnosed, Sophia’s spine had 80 percent slippage.

“It was mostly just shock at first,” Sophia said. “I didn’t completely understand how serious the surgery was. I didn’t see it as big of a deal was it really was. I couldn’t even comprehend it.”

Dr. Bruce performed a spinal fusion on Sophia a couple of weeks after diagnosing her. After a few months of recovery, Sophia began physical therapy with Caroline Bradley, P.T., D.P.T., C.S.C.S., at Children’s at Sandy Plains.

Bradley started Sophia with stretching and range of motion exercises before moving on to strengthening her core. Bradley finished Sophia’s physical therapy with back strengthening exercises before releasing her to play tennis.

One More Time

Sophia earned a spot on her high school’s team after coming back from physical therapy. Unfortunately, while playing on spring break the following year, Sophia felt something pop in her back.

An X-ray by Dr. Bruce showed that her spine had never fully fused and the rods placed in her spine had snapped. Sophia had to go through another spinal fusion and another round of physical therapy.

“I think my recovery went smoother, but emotionally it was harder because I knew what I was in store for. It was hard for me to do again,” she said. “But ultimately, I think it made me stronger.”

Bradley was a little more cautious for the second round of physical therapy. Like the first round, Sophia did what she had to so she could get back to the court.

“With any athlete there is always going to be a level of fear when returning to a sport after a severe injury,” Bradley said. “With Sophia, she not only had to come back to tennis once, but she came back twice. It has been a long road to recovery, but she has always remained positive and focused.”

Sophia recovered in time to once again earn a spot on Walton’s tennis team as a sophomore. With a healthy back, she helped her team win the Class AAAAAA state championship in May.

“We knew she was mentally tough,” Sophia’s father, Bob, said. “I was amazed when she came out the second time that she had absolutely no doubt that she would be back to playing tennis. That is what she wanted to do. I feel sorry for her opponents because no one has been through what she has.”

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When lower back pain turned into a serious condition, Sophia had to give up control of her high school tennis career and trust the physicians and therapists at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. After two rounds of spinal fusion surgery and physical therapy, she recovered in time to earn a spot on Walton’s tennis team as a sophomore, and help her team win the Class AAAAAA state championship in May.

1 related videos

Comeback Athlete Sophia GuldbergView

“We knew she was mentally tough,” said Sophia’s father, Bob. “I was amazed when she had absolutely no doubt that she would be back to playing tennis [after her two spinal fusion surgeries]. I feel sorry for her opponents because no one has been through what she has.”






Comeback-Athlete-Brandon

March Comeback Athlete Brandon Clinton

School: Haymon-Morris Middle School
Grade: Seventh
Sport: Baseball
Team: South East Baseball
Position: Third base, catcher and pitcher
Number: 16
Injury/disorder: Diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in November 2012
Quote: “I just want to be all the way up here with my life and with baseball,” he said. “I want to get into the major leagues. That is my goal.”

  • Brandon is an honor roll student at Haymon-Morris Middle School.
  • His favorite baseball players are the Angels’ Albert Pujols and the Braves’ Brian McCann.
  • His favorite teams are the Atlanta Braves and the Georgia Bulldogs.
  • He says his career highlight so far is playing in a tournament in Cooperstown, N.Y., where the Baseball Hall of Fame is located.

Brandon Clinton tries to stay focused on two things: school and baseball.

When he gets home from school, he spends the next hour or so doing homework at the family dinner table. After his homework is done, he often heads to an indoor baseball facility 30 minutes away to work on his pitching and hitting.

“I practice at least three or four times a week,” Brandon said. “We have games almost every weekend.”

With his mind so preoccupied with sports and studies, it isn’t surprising that his mother was the first person to think something was wrong.

“I noticed that he was going to the bathroom a lot and that he just wasn’t himself,” Amber Clinton said. “As a mom, I just have one of those gut feelings that something wasn’t right.”

Diagnosis and Education

Brandon’s parents brought him to the Emergency Department at Scottish Rite hospital Nov. 7, 2012, 10 days after his 13th birthday. He was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, a condition in which there is not enough insulin in the body.

The first thing Brandon did when the family heard the diagnosis was hug his mom, who appeared more worried than him. As Brandon heard more and more about diabetes from Constance Baldwin, M.D., a pediatric endocrinologist at Children’s, he felt more comfortable with what he needed to do.

“If you don’t take care of yourself, you can get really sick and possibly even die,” he said. “I was really scared about it at first. As the doctors at Children’s treated me, they really helped me and now I’m not letting it keep me down.”

Brandon and his family took classes with diabetic educators Rosalind Atkins and Kathy Davis at Children’s to learn how to manage the condition day to day.

“The diabetic staff at Children’s was phenomenal from day one,” said Richard Clinton, Brandon’s dad. “We went through two days of classes and learned about counting carbohydrates and how to do the insulin injections. They guided us step by step and he was engaged through the whole thing.”

Becoming Part of the Routine

Many of the adjustments Brandon had to make may seem like a big deal to most 13-year-olds. He now has to meticulously count the carbohydrates and sugar he eats. He also has to give himself insulin shots regularly and monitor his blood sugar by pricking his finger.

Brandon just added those adjustments into his daily routine and seamlessly transitioned into life as a diabetic.

“I can eat anything I want and I can do all the activities I want. I just have to monitor my blood sugar and make sure I take my insulin,” he said. “It is really all the same.”

Brandon’s parents weren’t surprised that he made such a smooth transition after the diagnosis.

 “We knew it was going to be a big change for him and how we did things,” Richard said. “Just knowing the type of kid he is, I knew he would be able to bounce back from it.”

Brandon, a seventh-grader at Haymon-Morris Middle School, had to miss one tournament after he was diagnosed. Not long after, he was back on the field with his team at South East Baseball, working hard toward his dream of being a professional baseball player.

“I just want to be all the way up here with my life and with baseball,” he said. “I want to get into the major leagues. That is my goal.”

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Brandon has been playing baseball for over seven years.

After doctors diagnosed him with diabetes, he had to miss one tournament. Not long after, he was back on the field with his team at South East Baseball, working hard toward his dream of being a professional baseball player.

“I just want to be all the way up here with my life and with baseball,” he said. “I want to get into the major leagues. That is my goal.”

1 related videos

Comeback Athlete Brandon ClintonView

Brandon’s parents weren’t surprised that he made such a smooth transition after receiving a diabetes diagnosis.

“We knew it was going to be a big change for him and how we did things,” said Brandon’s dad, Richard. “Just knowing the type of kid he is, I knew he would be able to bounce back from it.”






Comeback-Athlete-Aaron

February Comeback Athlete Aaron Davis

School: Luella High School
Year: Senior
Sport: Football
Position: Cornerback and wide receiver
Height: 6 feet
Number: 4
Injury/disorder: Torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in right knee in spring 2011; Re-injured the same knee in spring 2012
Quote: “It was pretty tough for me. I thought a lot, ‘That could have been me. I could have been doing this.’ I definitely wanted to come back. I worked countless days.”

  • Aaron received a football scholarship offer from the University of Florida before his second knee injury.
  • He earned an academic scholarship to the University of Georgia, his favorite school, and will try to join the football team as a preferred walk-on.
  • After his two surgeries, Aaron decided he wants to be an orthopaedic surgeon.

The one football game Aaron Davis played in his senior season at Luella High School left many in the stands and on the sidelines asking, “Where has this kid been?”

To answer that question, you have to go back to 2011 during Aaron’s sophomore year.

The First Injury

Playing in his team’s spring game at both cornerback and wide receiver, Aaron made a routine play that felt anything but routine afterward.

“I cut and I felt a twist and fell on the ground,” he said. “I thought I just tweaked something in my right knee and that I would just walk it off. But something just didn’t feel right.”

Aaron sat out the rest of the game. The next day, his knee was swollen. The injury he hoped was minor was starting to seem major. His parents, Dewayne and Virginia, took him to get a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan.

Finding Out the Damage

The MRI showed that he had torn his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), which meant he would likely need surgery. Dewayne sought orthopaedic surgeons in the state and landed on Michael Busch, M.D., the Surgical Director of the Children’s Sports Medicine Program.

“He was very thorough in explaining the process,” Dewayne said. “He gave Aaron straightforward answers about the time it was going to take to recover. The last thing he told him was that he won’t be back for the season. That was very disappointing.”

Surgery #1

Dr. Busch performed the surgery in August, a week before the start of Aaron’s junior year. On top of missing the season, Aaron was upset about what the injury would mean for his future. Aaron earned a lot of attention from big college football programs during his sophomore season. He wanted to use his junior season to earn a scholarship.

“It really bummed me out because we were supposed to have a big season,” he said. “I was supposed to be a big part of the team. Then, all of the sudden, nothing.”

Returning to Football… But Not For Long

Aaron worked hard during his recovery to return for spring practice. While participating in a drill at a spring football camp, however, he felt a familiar twinge in his knee. He was not in excruciating pain, but he knew something wasn’t right.

“He called me later that night and said, ‘We have a problem,’” Dewayne said. “I asked what the problem was. He said ‘I hurt my knee. I think I’m OK.’ So we weren’t sure if it was torn until the day of the surgery.”

Surgery #2

Aaron had a partial tear in his right knee. He would again need surgery and would likely miss his senior season at Luella.

“That was pretty tough. I really wasn’t expecting it,” he said. “As it got closer and closer to the surgery, I started to realize that I was going to have to go through the whole process again. That was probably the hardest part.”

Full Recovery

Aaron came to Children’s at Fayette for his second round of physical therapy. He worked with Colleen Crosby, P.T., D.P.T., to build strength through his whole body to help prevent the injury from happening a third time.

“I was doing things much faster than I was before,” Aaron said “It took me probably half the time that it did before.”

His recovery went well enough that the possibility of playing in his team’s last game of the season against Newton started to become a reality.

“We were concerned about what it might do to his possible future,” Luella coach Nic Vasilchek said. “In the end, we left it up to him. We weren’t really sure.”

The Big Game

After making a few catches early in the game, it was clear that Aaron was right back where he belonged. He set a school record for receptions in a game with 14 for 150 yards and two touchdowns.

“He was a superstar,” coach Vasilchek said. “It was absolutely amazing. It was well-deserved.”

For Aaron, the game was a chance to enjoy being a high school football player one last time. He will move on to the University of Georgia in the fall, where he earned an academic scholarship and preferred walk-on status on the football team.

But he’s glad he came back in time to leave his mark at Luella.

“It was excellent,” he said. “I wanted to make the most of the opportunity I had. I was a senior, so I might as well go out with a bang.”

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This future University of Georgia student doesn't let two surgeries get him down. See how he went from an injured high school sophomore to a record-breaking senior.

“He was a superstar,” said his high school coach. “It was absolutely amazing.”

1 related videos

Comeback Athlete Aaron DavisView

The one football game Aaron Davis played in his senior season at Luella High School left many in the stands and on the sidelines asking, “Where has this kid been?” 

To answer that question, you have to go back to 2011 during Aaron’s sophomore year...






Comeback-Athlete-Audrey

January Comeback Athlete Audrey Lockstedt

School: Sequoyah High School
Grade: Junior
Sport: Cheerleading
Position: Front spotter
Injury/disorder: Benign brain tumor removed in August 2011; Concussion suffered in October 2012
Quote: “It has made me a lot stronger. It has made me realize that there are going to be trials in my life and I’m going to have to figure out a way through them.”

  • Audrey volunteers at the Cherokee County Animal Shelter. She has two pets of her own, a dog named Chippie and a cat named Keoki.
  • Audrey is teaching herself to play the guitar. She will play music with her older brother, Evan, who plays the violin.
  • Audrey plans on attending Kennesaw State University but is undecided on a major.

January Comeback Athlete Audrey LockstedtAudrey Lockstedt’s personality is a perfect fit for cheerleading.

“I thought I would be good at it because I kind of already am a peppy person,” said 16-year-old Audrey, who started cheering in the eighth grade.

It wasn’t just her personality that made Audrey a staple on the Sequoyah High School football cheerleading squad. Audrey, a junior, also has the leadership ability to get a crowd on its feet.

Audrey used that ability to lift her family up even when she was down.

“Audrey was stronger than the rest of us,” Kim Lockstedt, Audrey’s mom, said. “We all felt like we were falling apart and she picked us up. I felt guilty at times because she was stronger than all of us. I think she just felt like everything was going to be OK.”

A Mass on Her Brain

On June 17, 2011, Audrey and her older brother Evan fell asleep in the family media room. Early in the morning, Evan started hearing Audrey making strange sounds. She was having a seizure. Evan woke up their parents, John and Kim, and they drove Audrey to Scottish Rite hospital.

When she arrived, Audrey received a computed tomography (CT) scan. It came back normal, but their doctor told the family to follow up with a neurologist.

Audrey received an electroencephalogram (EEG) and a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan, both of which showed a mass on her brain. It wasn’t clear if the tumor was malignant or benign.

Joshua Chern, M.D., a pediatric neurosurgeon at Children’s, wanted to operate right away and remove the tumor.

“Dr. Chern is amazing,” Audrey said. “He would draw lots of pictures to explain where it was, what he was going to do and how he was going to fix it. That really helped me understand the whole process.”

On Aug. 24, 2011, Dr. Chern removed the tumor. Less than a week later, he called the family and told them that the tumor was benign. The relief the family felt was indescribable.

A Return to Cheering

January Comeback Athlete Audrey LockstedtAudrey had to sit out a couple of practices and games, including the homecoming game and parade, after the surgery. She returned to the team three weeks later. Her role was temporarily limited. She had to avoid doing any stunting, but she was just happy to be back with her team.

Eventually, Audrey was able to return to stunting, taking her position as a front spotter for her junior season on the varsity team.

A Concussion

While practicing a difficult stunt in October 2012, a teammate’s foot slipped and hit Audrey in the same spot that she had her surgery more than a year before. She fell to the ground and hit the back of her head.

“At first you kind of feel nothing,” Audrey said. “Then you open your eyes and you are in some strange place, which for me was the floor. Then the pain starts coming on. Then you feel really dizzy and nauseated.”

Kim picked Audrey up and they returned to Scottish Rite, where she received another CT scan and was diagnosed with a concussion.

“Of all the cheerleaders, she’s the one that gets hit in the head,” said Kim, who can smile about it months later.

The doctor that diagnosed Audrey gave her and her family guidelines on what she could and could not do while recovering. Audrey had to get a lot of rest, avoid strenuous brain activity and avoid looking at screens of any type–including TVs, computers and cellphones.

Audrey also took an ImPACT test after the concussion. She was able to compare that test to the baseline test she took before school started.

“There seemed to be a difference,” she said. “I would remember stuff less and have a hard time trying to figure out some things.”

Coming Back After Her Second Injury

Audrey had to miss another couple of weeks of games and practices, including another homecoming game and parade, after the concussion. She said it took her a few practices to get back to herself, but she kept working and finished the season.

“I did think about quitting because I didn’t want to risk getting hit again,” she said. “I did feel like I was behind and I didn’t want to be that burden. But quitting isn’t what I do.”

The close-knit Lockstedt family is closer than ever. Watching their youngest fight through waves of adversity provided them with enough inspiration to last countless football seasons.

“Seeing her push through and come out on the other side has been really wonderful,” Kim said. “It has been an inspiration not just to me, but to a lot of people.”

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Audrey earned her Comeback Athlete title by recovering from two major brain injuries and returning to cheerleading each time.

“Audrey was stronger than the rest of us,” Kim Lockstedt, Audrey’s mom, said. “We all felt like we were falling apart and she picked us up. I felt guilty at times because she was stronger than all of us. I think she just felt like everything was going to be OK.”

1 related videos

Comeback Athlete Audrey LockstedtView

Audrey earned her Comeback Athlete title by recovering from two major brain injuries and returning to cheerleading each time.  

On June 17, 2011, Audrey and her older brother Evan fell asleep in the family media room. Early in the morning, Evan started hearing Audrey making strange sounds. She was having a seizure. Evan woke up their parents, John and Kim, and they drove Audrey to Scottish Rite hospital. Tests showed a mass on her brain. She had surgery to remove the tumor, and learned it was benign.

Once back on her cheerleading squad in October 2011, she was kicked in her head while practicing a difficult stunt. Doctors diagnosed her with a concussion. After taking time to feel back to normal, she finished cheering the season.






Comeback-Athlete-Logan

December Comeback Athlete Logan Caudle

School: Gordon Central High School
Grade: Junior
Sport: Wheelchair Track and Field
Events: Shot put, 200-meter race, 800-meter race
Injury/disorder: Transverse myelitis, a rare neurological disorder resulting in paralysis below the waist
Quote: “I just keep telling myself that I will walk again.”

  • Logan played baseball from age 4 until he was diagnosed with transverse myelitis. He played multiple positions, including first base, second base, third base, right field and pitcher. His favorite team is the Atlanta Braves and his favorite player is Chipper Jones.
  • Logan also plays the trumpet in the school band. He has played since the sixth grade.
  • In his first wheelchair track and field season, Logan and his wheelchair teammate won a team state title.

One minute, Logan Caudle was a baseball player helping his mother during a charity event. The next minute, he was on the ground, wondering where the feeling in his legs went.

Logan’s mother, Misty, still has to fight back tears when recalling the events of Jan. 23, 2010.

The mother-son duo was taking part in a scavenger hunt for Relay for Life. Misty drove to the clues and Logan, an eighth grader at the time, ran out and got them.

“After the third stop, I had really bad cramps in my legs,” Logan said. “Within 30 seconds, I was completely paralyzed from the waist down. I was scared to death.”

Misty pulled the car over to take care of her son, who was yelling from the fear. When he tried to get out of the car, he collapsed to the ground, unable to move his legs. She immediately called 911 and her son was taken to Gordon Hospital in Calhoun.

A few hours later, Logan was transported to the Intensive Care Unit at Scottish Rite hospital. He was diagnosed with transverse myelitis, a neurological disorder that includes inflammation of the spinal cord and results in paralysis.

“We were very confused,” Misty said. “There were a lot of whys. Why is this happening? The doctors, physicians and nurses at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta were awesome and encouraging. They said we could get through this.”

Logan’s doctors told him that he may or may not be able to walk again. He received a plasma transfer after arriving at Scottish Rite and started getting feeling back in his toes shortly after.

Both he and his parents knew that it was a long road ahead and that his baseball career, which started when he was 4 years old, may have ended.

“In the beginning, I was pretty depressed about it,” Logan said. “Those first few nights in the hospital, me and my mom just sat there and cried a lot. But I’ve been building up my confidence and determination. I feel pretty determined now.”

After his stay in the ICU, Logan was transferred to the Comprehensive Inpatient Rehabilitation Unit (CIRU), where he did exercises to build up his leg muscles and endurance.

Logan stayed at Scottish Rite for about three months after he was diagnosed. His parents, Misty and Barry, stayed at the nearby Ronald McDonald House during his inpatient treatment. He then transitioned to the Day Rehabilitation Program until May of 2010.

Through each step of his treatment, Logan stayed active and determined. That attitude allowed him to make significant progress in a relatively short amount of time.

“He is a very quiet, shy child, but when he wants something, he goes after it,” Misty said. “He is very determined. It doesn’t surprise me.”

When Logan returned to school, starting his freshman year at Gordon Central High School, he was still in a wheelchair. The school’s track and field coach, John Rainwater, approached Logan about participating in wheelchair events.

Logan did not even know that there were wheelchair events in track and field. Once he gave it a shot, he knew that it was the right outlet for his competitive drive.

“The wheelchair track and field has given him his confidence back,” Misty said. “It couldn’t come at a better time. He was really down. I’ve seen a new light in his eyes.”

Logan competes in the shot put, the 200-meter race and the 800-meter race. In his freshman season, he helped win a team state championship in the wheelchair division.

Because he was still growing, Jill C. Flanagan, M.D., a pediatric orthopaedic surgeon at Children's, performed a spinal fusion on Logan in February. He had to miss his sophomore season on the track and field team, but the surgery barely slowed down his recovery. Logan can now stand and even walk a little with the help of a walker.

As he approaches his junior season, he is bringing with him the same determination that helped him make so much progress since the day he suddenly lost feeling in his legs.

“I just keep telling myself that I will walk again,” he said.

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Comeback Athlete Logan Playing Baseball Comeback Athlete Logan at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta Comeback Athlete Logan Competing in Track and Field Comeback Athlete Logan in Marching Band

“I had really bad cramps in my legs,” Logan said, describing a day when he was helping his mother during a charity event in his eighth grade year. “Within 30 seconds, I was completely paralyzed from the waist down. I was scared to death.”

At the time, Logan’s doctors told him that he may or may not be able to walk again. Thanks to his determination, now he can stand and even walk a little with the help of a walker. And, in track and field wheelchair events, he competes in the shot put, the 200-meter race and the 800-meter race. 

1 related videos

Comeback Athlete Logan CaudleView

“He is a very quiet, shy child, but when he wants something, he goes after it,” said Misty, Logan’s mother. 

As he approaches his junior season, he is bringing with him the same determination that helped him make so much progress since the day he suddenly lost feeling in his legs.

“I just keep telling myself that I will walk again,” Logan said.






Comeback-Athlete-Andrew

November Comeback Athlete Andrew Ellis

School: Cloud Springs Elementary
Sport: Football
Team: Chattanooga Valley Recreation Department
Grade: Fourth
Number: 76
Position: Defensive line
Injury/disorder: Head injury, cuts and broken bones after surviving a tornado in April 2011
Quote: Wendy Ellis, Andrew’s mom, said, “The care he received was just phenomenal. But his mindset was ‘I’m going to do this.’ To overcome so much and to be so little and be a kid, it is just amazing.”

  • Andrew picked the jersey number 76 to honor his older brother, Adam, who died in the tornado.
  • Andrew and his mom, Wendy, are die-hard University of Georgia fans. He received an autographed photo from Bulldogs football coach Mark Richt after the tornado.

Andrew EllisAfter surviving an F4 tornado in April 2011, Andrew Ellis barely resembled the fun-loving kid he was before the storm.

“He was so dirty, I had to show them a picture of him so they knew what he was supposed to look like,” said Wendy Ellis, Andrew’s mom. “He was just covered in dirt and debris and injuries.”

It took a lot of time and hard work before Andrew could get back to being the kid he was before the tornado. More than a year and a half since that tragic day, the 9-year-old football player is able to get back on the field.

“I was fully recovered before I went back out there,” Andrew said. “It felt good to get back out there.”

Before the storm, Wendy dropped Andrew and his 17-year-old brother, Adam, off at their grandmother’s house in Ringgold because the power was out at their home. Just a few minutes after she left her sons, Wendy received a call letting her know that a tornado had touched down by their grandmother’s street.

With so much damage and so many emergency vehicles responding, it took hours for Wendy to receive any information about her family. But she eventually heard the tragic news.

Wendy’s grandmother, mother, cousin and oldest son died in the tornado. Andrew was being flown to Erlanger Medical Center in Chattanooga, Tenn.

She wasn’t able get the whole story until Andrew was stable and ready to talk. He said that when the storm started getting bad, his grandmother told him to seek safety in the bathroom.

“She said, ‘Get in the bathtub,’ ” Andrew said. “I was scared, but I didn’t really know what was going on.”

Shortly after, Andrew heard a loud explosion and felt the bathtub being pulled from the home. Emergency responders found him a quarter-mile away from his grandmother’s house.

Andrew was suffering from hypothermia, brain trauma, a broken femur and foot, multiple deep lacerations and burns. After being taken to Erlanger, where he was stabilized and received acute treatment, he was transferred to Scottish Rite hospital.

He was admitted to the Children’s Comprehensive Inpatient Rehabilitation Unit (CIRU) and treated his multiple injuries.

Andrew EllisThroughout his treatment, Andrew maintained a single goal: to return to school at the same time as his classmates. Because of his determination, he was able to walk into school on his first day of fourth grade without a wheelchair, walker or crutches.

“I can do everything I could before the accident,” he said.

Seeing Andrew return to the football field after having to take a year off was a special moment for his mother. Wendy fondly remembers watching her oldest son play football for Ringgold High.

“Football has always been a big part of our life,” she said. “Having Andrew back out on the field and reliving that was with very mixed emotions. Football is in our genes. To see him out there, it made me so happy that he had overcome so much and was giving it his all.”

4 related images

Comeback Athlete Andrew with His Brother Comeback Athlete Andrew with His Mom Comeback Athlete Andrew at Scottish Rite Hospital Comeback Athlete Andrew Today

After surviving an F4 tornado in April 2011, it took a lot of time and hard work before Andrew could get back to his regular activities. Throughout his treatment, he maintained a single goal: to return to school at the same time as his classmates. Because of his determination, he was able to walk into school on his first day of fourth grade without a wheelchair, walker or crutches.

“I can do everything I could before the accident,” he said.

1 related videos

Comeback Athlete Andrew EllisView

Seeing Andrew return to the football field after having to take a year off was a special moment for his mother. Wendy fondly remembers watching her oldest son play football for Ringgold High.

“Football has always been a big part of our life,” she said. “Having Andrew back out on the field and reliving that was with very mixed emotions. Football is in our genes. To see him out there, it made me so happy that he had overcome so much and was giving it his all.”






Comeback-Athlete-Kaitlin

October Comeback Athlete Kaitlin Tatum

School: Buford High School
Sport: Volleyball
Year: Senior
Number: 7 
Height: 6'2" 
Position: Middle Hitter/Blocker
Injury/disorder: Trevor’s disease in her right ankle
Quote: “Don’t stop fighting. You can get to where you want to be. You just have to realize where you are and know what you need to work toward.”

  • Kaitlin is the leader of “Adam’s Army” at Buford, a student group named in memory of a deceased classmate that attends sporting events and supports other school teams.
  • Kaitlin competes in Miss Teen Georgia USA and has placed in the top five in her last two pageants.


Kaitlin playing volleyballWhen Kaitlin Tatum steps onto a volleyball court these days, she knows she can jump, spike and bump without a problem.

But there was a time not long ago when Kaitlin, a senior at Buford High School, didn’t know if she would even be able to play the sport she loves again.

“Sometimes I felt like I would never get to where I needed to be,” she said.

When she was 5, Kaitlin rolled her right ankle while chasing a friend in her backyard. The pain and swelling lasted longer than a usual sprain or strain. Kina Alarcon-Tatum, Kaitlin’s mom, first took her daughter to see a general orthopaedist, who put her in a cast and on crutches. But after little improvement, Kina requested a referral to a specialist.

They were sent to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta almost a year after the initial injury. Once there, Kaitlin was diagnosed with Trevor’s disease, a congenital bone disorder that affects the growth plate. In Kaitlin’s case, a benign tumor was attached to the growth plate in her ankle.

“So the tumor basically grows with me,” she said. “As I grew up, every couple of years, when it really started to hurt me, I had to have surgery to clean out the tumor as it grew.”

Between December 2001 and May 2009, Kaitlin had to have three surgeries—two arthroscopic and one open—to clean out her ankle. All three were done at Children’s.

“Her recovery was very difficult,” Kina said. “I don’t think we realized the type of severity that was going on in her ankle.”

Despite the surgeries, Kaitlin stayed active, playing both volleyball and basketball. She also began competing in Miss Georgia Teen USA pageants.

But before her junior year at Buford, Michael Busch, M.D., the surgical director of the Children’s Sports Medicine Program, and Jorge Fabregas, M.D., a pediatric orthopaedic surgeon at Children’s, thought Kaitlin should have one last surgery to remove the tumor and fix her ankle for good.

Dr. Busch and Dr. Fabregas performed Kaitlin’s fourth and final surgery on May 20, 2011. The recovery process included months of physical therapy that forced Kaitlin to miss her entire junior volleyball and basketball seasons.

“The odds were stacked against me to be where I am today,” she said. “It was not likely. It was hard because I didn’t want to mess up all the hard work the doctors had put into me and all the physical therapy I had put in. It really took everything I had to go through and do it the right way.”

Kaitlin followed the instructions of Children’s Physical Therapist Bob Breingan and returned for a successful senior volleyball season. She helped the Lady Wolves reach the quarterfinals of the Class AAA state tournament and earned a scholarship to play at Columbus State University.

Now that her ankle is healed and her confidence restored, Kaitlin feels ready to take on the next level.

“I feel like I can take on the world,” she said. “At first, after the surgery, I thought I’d never walk again because it is such a hard process with extreme physical therapy. Through all of that, I was able to come back and play the sport I love.”

4 related images

Comeback Athlete Kaitlin Comeback Athlete Kaitlin Comeback Athlete Kaitlin Comeback Athlete Kaitlin

“I feel like I can take on the world,” she said. “At first, after the surgery, I thought I’d never walk again because it is such a hard process with extreme physical therapy. Through all of that, I was able to come back and play the sport I love.”

1 related videos

Comeback Athlete Kaitlin TatumView

When she was 5, Kaitlin rolled her right ankle while chasing a friend in her backyard. At Children's, she was diagnosed with Trevor’s disease, a congenital bone disorder that affects the growth plate. A benign tumor was attached to the growth plate in her ankle.

After four surgeries, she returned for a successful senior volleyball season. She helped the Lady Wolves reach the quarterfinals of the Class AAA state tournament and earned a scholarship to play at Columbus State University.