From paralyzed to walking valedictorian

The inspiring story of a high school senior who didn't give up


Max Ahlquist was a high-performing student-athlete until a senior rafting trip left him in an unthinkable situation.


"I was launched into the bottom of a shallow river. I was not sure what happened," said Max. "Everything was buzzing in my body and I was like what’s going on here."

Max was rescued but left paralyzed from the neck down.

But his support system, especially his father Brad Alquist, pushed him to recover.

"Max has done everything we asked him to do. He took his recovery seriously. He educated himself. Learned the terminology. The doctors were impressed with how much he knew," said Brad Ahlquist.

Max worked hard in physical therapy and becomes a stronger walker every day.

"It does not look awesome when I walk, but the level of comfort I have with walking, for a short distance, is really awesome," said Max.

While recovering he never gave up on his academic goals and ended up graduating as a co-valedictorian. Now, he’s headed to Stanford University.

"It really gives me an underdog fight in me where I realize there’s nothing to lose. I have been really lucky because I have gotten in and it’s such a blessing. I know that all there is up from here," said Max.