News 12 First at Five / Friday, June 7, 2013
BELVEDERE, S.C. (WRDW) -- It's a story of courage, perseverance and determination.
A local high school student spent 70 days of his last semester in the hospital. He nearly died three times this year, but despite all of it, he kept up with his schoolwork.
On Friday night, the North Augusta High School student will walk across the stage and graduate.
"Unbelievable, unbelievable," said J.W. Taylor as he tried to find the words to describe the day.
"I couldn't even hardly sleep last night," he said.
It's the day he will graduate high school.
"[It's] something I've been waiting for for about 15 years," he said.
J.W. was born with spina bifida. His parents say he wasn't expected to make it past his birth, let alone graduate from high school.
"I was determined that no matter what happened, even all the stuff that's happened this year, I was determined to graduate no matter what," he said.
The 20-year-old was doing great and was on track to graduate, but then something happened.
"January 9th, he had respiratory failure and heart failure and spent 31 days in the hospital," explained his dad, James Taylor.
Five weeks later, he had to go back again.
"He was there for 39 days. Almost died from respiratory failure Easter weekend," said his dad.
J.W. came home on May 2 not able to leave his bed until Thursday when he was able to roll in the chair that will carry him across the stage Friday night.
"J.W. is a fighter and he's not a quitter, and we're just looking forward to tonight," said his father. "He's worked so hard for 15 years to get to this point, and I'm just thankful he got to make it and God didn't call him home before he got to finish."
A boy who's defied the odds since the day he was born.
"[Doctors] said well he [wouldn't] make it past 2. Just cherish the time you have with him. We celebrated his second birthday. They said he wouldn't make it past 5, we celebrated his fifth birthday so thankful," said his dad. "They said he wouldn't ever graduate high school, and now, here we are."
"Don't give up. Don't give up because you can get through it," J.W. said.
J.W. will be the last one to cross the stage. They said they wanted to give him his moment.
His parents say the school had offered to do a private ceremony in the hospital, but J.W. didn't want that.
J.W. wanted to give a big thanks to the staff at North Augusta who took the time to work with him at home and in the hospital and make his graduation possible.