Julie Albee (STARS Counselor), along with a few teachers coordinated a fundraiser last month for a former FHS student, Ify Nonyelu. Ify was involved in a accident that left him paralyzed. Here is a Ify’s story—
Ify Nonyelu: Growing through Generosity
It began with a story we had heard from a local news channel about former Franklin High School student and basketball player Ify Nonyelu. In 2007, as Ify was about to enter his senior year at FHS he had driven his cousin to work one morning and fell asleep at the wheel. His van flipped three times down an embankment. He survived but he suffered a C4-C5 spinal cord injury, which meant he was paralyzed from the chest down. Before the accident, Ify had been diagnosed with scoliosis – curvature of the spine. His spinal cord injury caused his scoliosis to worsen and there was no choice but to operate. As a result Ify had a spinal fusion, which made him two inches taller. Although the surgery was successful, Ify can no longer get into his van without someone forcing his head down to fit under the door. This causes pain and puts the rods and pins that were placed in his back at risk of being dislodged. His chair is custom fitted to his leg length so the chair cannot be lowered. Because of the pain of being forced in and out of the van, Ify doesn’t leave the house. Ify desires to regain some independence and to attend college and become a software engineer. Having a new van would afford him this opportunity.When we heard about Ify’s story we were reminded of our goal to make generosity a part of our growth story at Grassland Middle School. And so that is what our community did. Our school collected $1500.00 in donations to contribute to the purchase of a new van for Ify. The donations we received from students, their families and staff confirm that Ify’s story resonates with so many of us. His perseverance, hope, and humility are an inspiration and remind us that living generously helps us to also view our own lives with a new lens of gratitude.
-Julie Albee, M.A. STARS Specialist