Aubrey Thompson ~ Recipient of the Jim Dodson Law Scholarship for Brain Injury Victims & Their Caregivers

Just 15 Minutes ~ Aubrey's Scholarship Essay

It was a beautiful fall day, October 16, 2013 in St. Johns Florida where I live.  We had testing at school that day and I didn't have to be there until 4th period.  I slept later than usual.  My mom, a teacher, had left for her school much earlier.  When I woke up, I saw a note... “Aubrey, call the vet to see if they can bathe and cut Renegade. Love, Mom”.   I called, but they couldn’t take our dog that day.

I dressed, ate breakfast, and prepared my things at the door for school...football practice gear, lunch, and book bag. Then I got a phone call from a couple of friends.  I said, "ok, I'll ride along", thinking I'd be back in 15 minutes.  However, I didn't arrive back home for 5 months.

My mom was on the playground with her class when she was pulled aside and told there had been an accident and she should get to the hospital.  My dad had been called and was already on his way to the hospital when I was being transported by "life flight".  The accident happened close to school and the news spread so quickly that people from our community and church were arriving at the hospital at the same time as my parents.  It was on the news within minutes.  I was used to being on the news but for different reasons.  I was a 3 sport varsity athlete at Bartram Trail High School.  However, that morning I had been a passenger in my friend’s truck.  He was racing another friend and lost control while rounding a curve.  I was not wearing a seatbelt.  I was ejected.  I don't remember the first 3 months I was in ICU…coma, life support, surgeries, visitors, and lots and lots of prayers.  I slightly remember arriving by ambulance at a second hospital in Atlanta 100 days later for rehabilitation, having lost eighty pounds.

Fast forward 2 ½ years.  I'm labeled a miracle.  I suffered a traumatic brain injury and have optic nerve damage from my accident. However, I get stronger physically and mentally every day. I can't play college ball as I had planned, but I can walk, talk, think, learn, laugh, sing, pray, be thankful, and much more.  My doctors say I have more healing to do.  I look forward to being able to run again, and do some of the things physically that I use to.  I was able to graduate high school with honors, and just finished my first year of college with a 3.3 gpa.  I attend college locally while living at home.  My mom retired early from teaching and drives me to and from classes each day, as I cannot drive due to my limited vision.

My plans are to be a Physical Therapist one day.  All my therapists have been awesome.  I volunteer each week at Brooks Rehabilitation Center.  Besides assisting the therapists, I get to talk to and encourage the patients.  I’m privileged to talk to some groups every so often.  I tell my story and reinforce the importance of making good decisions and always wearing a seatbelt.  I’m active in my church who prayed so long for me, and still do.  I believe God saved me for a reason, and His plans are better than mine.  I don't take anything for granted now, even if it's just 15 minutes.