As Hunter Branscum passed the finish line at the Whiskey Road Race in Aiken on Oct. 7, his mother, Diane Ryals, proudly snapped his photo.
While she was happy that her 11-year-old finished third in his age category in the one-miler, her greatest joy was that her son was alive to even run the race.
"He's amazing; there's nothing he can't do," she said.
Two summers ago, Hunter, a Grovetown resident who attends New Life Christian Academy in Augusta, survived a fall from a three-story balcony window while on vacation in Myrtle Beach, S.C.
Doctors did not expect him to live.
Hunter had internal bleeding, a ruptured spleen and several broke bones, including a femur and collarbone. He had several surgeries after the accident, and surgeons implanted pins and a rod in his leg to help in the healing process.
The recovery was supposed to take several months, she said.
Only a month later, however, he was walking unassisted.
The accident happened to a child who already had gone through some physical struggles in his life.
As a baby, he was diagnosed with Russell Silver syndrome, which causes physical and mental developmental delays. He also has juvenile diabetes, and he was involved in a serious car crash at age 4 that resulted in several injuries.
Not only has Hunter healed from his accidental injuries, he's now growing.
"He's grown 10 to 12 inches since the accident," she said. "He had a physical, and the doctors said he's in the 80th percentile. He's almost where he needs to be. Before, he was always two to three years behind."
He's also improving in school and overcoming his learning delays.
"He's totally healthy," she said. "The doctors are pretty shocked he is as healthy as he is."
Though Ryals has done things to assist Hunter such as changing his diet so that he only eats fresh and healthy foods, she attributes his physical and mental improvements to the family's faith in God and the power of prayer.
"God's just really blessed him" she said.
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