Pottsville High School student injured over summer gets support from the community

Drake Strong.JPG

Over the summer, a student at Pottsville High School had a tragic accident, but through it all, the school and the community rallied around the family in a time they needed it most.

Clint and Amber Maness got a call on June 15th that all parents fear. Their son, Drake, had an accident while diving into his girlfriend's pool.

"He was paralyzed upon impact as soon as he hit the bottom of the pool," said Clint Maness.

His neck was broken, he was paralyzed and he had no feeling from the neck down. He was flown to Arkansas Children's Hospital and taken into surgery.

"Once he woke up from surgery, he had feeling everywhere, but he couldn't really move," Clint said.

After six weeks at ACH, he was flown to a hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, for more treatment. This is where he took his first steps since the accident.

But being so far away meant his friends and classmates didn't get to see him, so the community came together.

"Cogswell donated the van and the gas," said Pottsville senior Bryce Metz.

One weekend, a group set out to see Drake.

"We played a game that Friday, we showered, got in the van and headed straight there," said Hayden Weatherall, Pottsville senior and football player.

They drove through the night to Baltimore.

"The drive was 18 hours,” said Bryce, "First his girlfriend walked in and gave him a surprise. Then, we all walked in as a group."

Drake's father, Clint, was surprised by the visit and said this was huge for Drake, "He was all smiles, he was able to get up and walk over to some of them, and give them some hugs. It really did him so good."

It was good, and not just for Drake.

"I had missed him so much. We all were ready to see him. Once we saw him, it was just a relief," Hayden said.

Drake has blown past goals and exceeded expectations.

"It just shows the kind of character that he has and how special he is as a kid and as a young man," Clint explained.

Drake was on the Pottsville High football team. He won't be joining his teammates on the field this season, but he's still a big part of this team.

"Now we play for him. Every game is for him, every play is for him, and that's just what we show," Hayden said.

The community held fund raisers for Drake's family so they didn't have to stress while they stay with him in the hospital.

They hope to have him back home to Pottsville by October 18th.

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