MADISON, Ala. (WHNT) — UPDATE: Kaitlyn McGinnis has been crowned homecoming queen. WATCH THE EXCLUSIVE VIDEO BELOW.
PREVIOUS STORY: Friday night under the lights at the Madison City Stadium, Bob Jones High School's football team will play. But all eyes will be on halftime crowing of homecoming queen.
17-year-old senior Kaitlyn McGinnis will walk onto the field just like the rest of the teens in the running for homecoming queen and that in itself is a miracle.
Nearly a year ago, Kaitlyn was a passenger in a car accident that slammed her head against a tree, causing severe brain trauma. She was air-lifted to Vanderbilt Hospital, but her prognosis was bleak. Doctors gave the family no hope. The damage was too severe.
Even if she lived, she would remain a vegetable and require constant care just to exist. The family could forget about her having a normal life.
When Kaitlyn did emerge from a coma, she was paralyzed down her left side and couldn't open her eyes or speak coherently.
Kaitlyn endured a long and challenging recovery with months in the Nashville hospital and a rehabilitation facility in Atlanta.
Kaitlyn walked around a school track unaided this past week, showing she's on target to attain her goal of crossing the stage to get her diploma in May. "Walking! Not rolling," she said.
The nerves are slowly responding and moving down to the extremities of her left arm and leg. She no longer has to forcibly swing her left hip to move the leg, and can raise her left arm almost even with her shoulder. Her eyesight has improved, but she only has about 25 percent of her previous vision.
It's still a frustrating circumstance for a girl who craves being independent. Having to rely on others for everything was the worst part of being in the hospital, she said. But it also helps her appreciate little things, like being able to slide into bed unassisted.