"If you have an injury, you can overcome anything you want," said Kolton Smith
An inspirational and emotional moment at Durant High School’s graduation this evening when Kolton Smith WALKED across the stage.
Credit: Hillsborough County Public Schools

A Florida high school student who was left paralyzed from the waist down less than a year ago found the strength and determination to walk across the stage at his high school graduation.

Kolton Smith, 18, told ABC affiliate WFTS that he was injured in a car crash that happened in June. According to the news outlet, he was ejected from his truck because he wasn’t wearing his seat belt.

“The next thing I know, I was on my back looking at the sky,” he told WFTS. “I thank God every day for letting me stay on this earth.”

Smith, who used to play football at Durant High School and aspired to join the military, now plans on enrolling at Southeastern University and will study business.

“If you have an injury, you can overcome anything you want,” said Smith, who said he didn’t realize that he received a standing ovation when he managed to walk at graduation.

“I was just focused on walking. I looked at my feet. I didn’t even know everyone was standing,” Smith told WFTS.

He added: “When I was on stage and I heard everyone scream when I stood up, I was like, ‘Whoa!’ I just smiled. I couldn’t do anything but smile.”

On Thursday, the Hillsborough County Public Schools posted on Facebook that seeing Smith walk was “an inspirational and emotional moment.”


“Kolton was paralyzed from the waist down after a horrible car accident last summer,” they added. “He was determined to rise from his wheelchair and walk across the stage to receive his diploma. We are in awe of your perseverance, Kolton. Congratulations!”