Paralyzed teen returns to Craig Hospital with financial gift

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- About two years ago, a California teenager looked forward to studying at the Berklee College of Music in Boston.

But before she could hit her first note there, she was struck down by a rare illness that left her paralyzed.

Now she has returned to Colorado -- to a place that helped her learn a new way of life.

Grace Fisher, 17, went from accomplished musician of three instruments to lying in a hospital bed for weeks, her arms and legs paralyzed.

"They came up with a diagnosis of acute flaccid myelitis, which is similar to polio and unexplainable," Fisher said.

She then spent seven months rehabilitating at Craig Hospital.

That's where she met Sarah Thompson—the hospital’s music therapist.

"She thought without the use of her hands and feet she would not be able to play music again. It was a big part of her as a person. So she lost a lot with her illness," Thompson said.

So, Thompson wanted to incorporate music back into Fisher's life.

They started by first strengthening the now-18-year-old’s neck using a mouth stick to hit keys on a piano.

"She got creative. Then, realizing, ‘I can play a song.’ It accidentally opened this whole other door for her," Thompson said.

"It's like learning a new instrument. And I found out I can compose and that was something I never explored before I got sick," Fisher said.

It's helped her return to her passion like never before.

And now Grace returned the favor with a gift of $1,500 to the music therapy program.

Her gift will buy more instruments like a guitar and drums, to help even more people. Last year the hospital assisted about 70 patients.

"Sarah and Craig Hospital's Music Therapy program has been so vital to my recovery. I thought it was only necessary, I give back," Fisher said.

It’s a program that's hit a high note in every aspect of her life.

"No one ever told me I wouldn't walk again, because they did not know what's going on. And I'll never give up on that, but I'm not going to sit and wait for that to happen," Fisher said.

Craig's music therapy program is run solely through donations because most insurance companies don't cover it.