Chesterton Tribune



CHS grad Kyle Bartolini is 2018 ACE Award winner

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Chesterton High School graduate Kyle Bartolini has been awarded the 2018 A.C.E. Award (Accepting the Challenge of Excellence) by the Duneland Exchange Club, given to a CHS senior who has faced a challenging time, persevered and will graduate.

On September 1, 2003, when Kyle was 3, his family was at a Labor Day picnic, when he found a loaded handgun and accidentally shot himself.

Kyle was rushed to University of Chicago’s children hospital with severe injuries. The bullet entered through Kyle’s chest, nicked one of his arteries, traveled through his vocal cords, and lodged in his spinal cord. An aneurysm formed where the artery was nicked, which saved Kyle’s life by creating a balloon that contained blood from the damaged artery. He could have died from blood loss without the aneurysm.

Kyle was rushed to surgery, to repair the aneurysm and remove the bullet. The prognosis--Kyle would be paralyzed from the neck down, have limited use of his arms, and no use of his hands. A paralyzed vocal cord meant he couldn’t breathe, talk or swallow on his own and would need a ventilator and feeding tube. Thankfully, the vocal cord was only in shock. Over time it began to work, so Kyle could speak, breath and swallow, but was still paralyzed.

Home after four month’s hospitalization, Kyle and his parents watched a documentary on unique spinal therapies. Kyle’s mom immediately sought to enroll Kyle in the exercise-based Locomotor program at University of Florida. The program did not accept anyone under 16, but Kyle’s mom convinced Dr. Andrea Behrman, who developed the program, to accept Kyle and in January of 2004, Kyle and his mom moved to Florida for four months of therapy, returning annually.

Normally, to walk, the brain sends a signal through the spinal cord to the legs. Through therapy the communication is reversed.

Kyle’s parents prepared him to be focused and work hard, and all were amazed at his progress. By age 10, Kyle had use of his arms and hands, and was walking with a walker and crutches. Because of his success, a pediatric program was created and Dr. Behrman shares Kyle’s story and offers therapy for kids from around the world.

Kyle, now 17, is now experiencing a decline because his muscles cannot keep up with bone growth. It is tough for him to walk, with either crutches or walker, and he spends most of his time in a wheelchair and again needs intensive therapy.

Five years ago, the Locomotor program moved to Louisville, Kentucky, where Kyle will be attending the University of Louisville this fall, and he will undergo therapy.

Kyle’s life has been challenging, but his parents wanted him to live as normal a life as possible. They knew if Kyle was to live an independent life, they had to push him to realize his potential. Today Kyle can live without assistance and uses little adaptive equipment. He loves adventure, and nothing stops him. He enjoys kayaking, fishing, hunting, paintball, driving a four-wheeler, traveling, and likes unplanned adventures. Kyle’s mom said he is very social, tender-hearted, an amazing listener, thoughtful, protective, determined and doesn’t let his disability define who he is.

A large part of Kyle’s success is due to his parents who worked so hard to ensure his quality of life. In the midst of this tragedy they never lost sight of the miracles of God along the way.

Most gun accidents like this end in the death of the child, yet Kyle survived. Aneurysms can be deadly, yet one saved his life. Kyle was not supposed to speak, swallow, breath on his own, or move, and yet he learned to walk. He wasn’t supposed to be part of the Locomotor program, yet they accepted him, and today kids all over the world are being helped.

Kyle’s life is truly an inspiration. He still has a tough road ahead, but his positive attitude is propelling him toward a bright future. He graduated mid-term from CHS this year and will attend the University of Louisville, with the goal of a degree in social work.

Upon graduation, his dream job is working with inner city youth. Kyle knows that children born into poverty rarely get a chance to succeed. He understands that shootings, drugs, gang violence, and being abandoned are daily hardships. Kyle’s goal is to help give these children better opportunities. He knows that our children are the future and by saving our kids we are saving ourselves.


Posted 6/12/2018




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