Paralyzed teen overcomes odds to earn full-ride college scholarship

Isaac Diaz was only 11 when his life changed forever.


Most people won't often remember much about their high school graduation, but the Class of 2019 of Asheboro High School probably won't forget Isaac Diaz.

Diaz was an honor student, chosen as prom king and received a full scholarship to Johns Hopkins.

Like many kids, Diaz grew up playing sports. He loved running around outdoors.

But everything changed in September 2012 after a severe asthma attack left him in a coma.

Diaz was just 11 years old.

"I was at church playing piano, it hit me out of nowhere," Diaz said. "I started feeling muscle fatigue, I started feeling really weak and I felt my muscles just get weaker and weaker and weaker."

The doctors didn't know what happened.

"They know it was an autoimmune attack that affected just the motor part of my neurons so just my mobility was affected," he said. "As soon as (the doctor) mentioned stuff like not being able to move and paralysis, I just remember I stopped hearing things."

Diaz said it was hard at first living with new limitations, but faith, along with love and support from his family helped him see beyond his barriers.

After returning to school two years later, teachers took note of Diaz's academic and leadership skills.

It was those qualities that helped Diaz gain recognition from the U.S. Department of Education as a presidential scholar.

He plans to study chemical engineering in college and hopes to work in biomedical research.

“One thing I don't like is unanswered questions, so that's another thing that keeps me going, as well is being able to imagine what it would be like to help other people that are in the same situation,” Isaac said.