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'I accomplished a goal': Teen walks graduation stage following Lee County crash

Khalia walks across graduation stage.jpg
Posted at 9:23 PM, May 21, 2022

ESTERO, Fla. — A Fort Myers High School senior walked across the graduation stage on Saturday afternoon, despite many challenges.

Khalia Carter was hit by a suspected drunk driver on April 18. It left her with traumatic brain injuries and forced her to learn day-to-day activities all over again, such as walking.

"We're so glad Khalia is here with us today," said Timesha Carter, Khalia's sister.

Shawnda Cook, Khalia's mom, says graduation day has been a long time coming.

"Khalia even on the weekends, Khalia got up. She did all her exercises and she deserves this. She deserves every bit of this," Shawnda said. "We can't believe this day finally came."

Khalia was surrounded by family and friends, anxiously waiting for the moment where Khalia would walk across the stage.

"I was just excited. Not really nervous," Khalia said. "I just wanted to do by myself and that’s all."

And she did. The former high school cheerleader walked up the ramp with her peers, walked across the stage and received her diploma.

"We pushed through the journey and I accomplished a goal I wanted to do today," Khalia said.

The feeling could only be described by her mom in one word: overwhelming.

"This is such a huge accomplishment for Khalia," Shawnda said.

Khalia says she's progressing every day. Despite the circumstances, they're looking towards the future. Khalia is getting ready to go to Georgia Southern University.

She says she's excited for her going away party and having her sisters decorate her dorm room.

"I'm real proud of her," said Reginald Cook, Khalia's dad.

They're keeping this message in mind and hopes other people will do the same.

"That's just the most important — don't drink and drive," Shawnda said.