As teens celebrate their graduation across the nation proud parents and family members are celebrating their hard work and determination.
But for one teen from Owensboro, Kentucky, the hurdles that life threw at him makes him an exceptional high school graduate.
Braden West was born with the rare craniofacial condition, Pfeiffer syndrome Type 2, which causes malformations of the skull and an underdeveloped brain.
His mom Cheri was told about her son’s condition two weeks before he was born.
“I mean, he’s kicking in my belly and I’m praying for God to take him home,” Cheri told News Nation Now. “That’s not me. I am not for that at all.”
But when Braden was born Cheri immediately bonded with her special boy and knew there wasn’t anything she wouldn’t do for him.
He wasn’t expected to live beyond 18 months but defying all the odds he graduated from Apollo High School on June 6.
Braden has since endured 33 surgeries. As well as the support of his loving family he also formed a special bond with registered nurse Michele Eddings Linn.
When Braden was a baby his health fell into decline and his future looked uncertain.
Michele was by his side the night Braden almost lost his life. “I just remember, you know, praying, ‘Lord just either take him home or make him better,’” she said. “Because no one could watch him continue to go through this.”
Linn said when baby Braden pulled through that night he was her first patient who ever got to leave hospice care. Now the two are so close that Braden even asked Michele, who he refers to as his “angel,” to take his senior photos.
“17 years ago I cried because I thought his time on Earth was ending, and now I’m crying because he is graduating [from] high school and his life is just beginning!,” Linn wrote on a Facebook post.
Now the talented teen is graduating with a 3.8 GPA and is the recipient of his senior class’s Sweet Sixteen award.
“To watch him become this amazing young man has been emotional, but yet I’m so proud,” mom Cheri told The Epoch Times.
“When I was watching him walk the line, every emotion of the first few months of his life came flooding back. All I could think about was, he isn’t supposed to be doing this, he wasn’t supposed to even be able to hold a pencil, speak, see, hear … and here we are.”
To celebrate such an amazing milestone in Braden’s life his parents organized for him to be flown into the middle of a live concert which featured one of his favorite musicians, country singer Cam Thomspon, via helicopter.
Braden described his graduation day as “perfect”.
“I feel pretty good knowing I worked so hard to get to this day because it wasn’t always easy,” he added.
Braden now wants to become a pilot or join the National Guard.
His mom Cheri says her son’s achievements serve as a special reminder to those with all the odds stacked against them.
“Don’t ever give up … No matter how hard the mountain is to climb, keep climbing because the view at the top is amazing!”
Thanks to Braden’s faith and determination he’s not only survived but thrived with his amazing grades.
Help us congratulate this inspirational young man and wish him a future of health and happiness by sharing this story.