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
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.
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
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.
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