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#Believe4Britton: Teen’s recovery from coma after ATV crash brings community together

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Posted at 9:41 PM, Apr 10, 2015
and last updated 2015-04-10 23:41:55-04

ST. GEORGE, UTAH - A Santa Clara teen left in a coma after an ATV accident late last year is going home.

When Britton Shipp came to Dixie Regional Medical Center for rehabilitation, therapists weren’t sure if he’d ever walk again. Friday, he walked out of the building. Even though it’s just a few steps at a time, for his family, they’re milestones.

“It’s probably my most emotional day, happy emotional day that I’ve had in this whole ordeal,” says Britton’s dad, Jesse Ship. “I’m just thankful that he ate his own meal today at lunch and he’s just proven to us that he’s ready.”

Friday, the staff at Dixie Regional’s Neuro Rehabilitation center threw Britton a going home party to celebrate all the progress he’s made.

Britton slipped into a coma in November 2014 after an ATV accident during an activity for a school dance. His recovery prospects at the time were unknown. DRMC Neuro Rehabilitation director Rusty Moore said brain injuries are so varied, it’s hard to make predictions, but therapists say his never-give-up attitude has helped him, and them, get him through.

“It’s really a miracle to see the amount of recovery Britt has gained in the time he’s been with us,” says occupational therapist Steve Wallenfels. “Even during the times there was so little he could do, he was always putting everything, 110 percent into it.”

Britton has had to learn all motor functions again, but his family, the medical staff, and Britton himself have all pushed ahead. Britton’s perseverance and attitude are one reason the St. George community rallied around the teen. The cake at Friday’s party bore the hashtag #believe4britton, a motto that has followed his progress, and is visible in neighborhoods and businesses. Jesse Shipp says it’s been humbling to have all that support.

“It was a story of hope, ‘hey, lets rally around this kid, let’s make this happen,'" Jesse said. “And he’s loved by so many.”

Dr. Moore says it’s a first for someone of Britton’s age to receive rehabilitation treatment in St. George. Usually families would have to travel to larger cities. It took special coordinating with the staff and the insurance, but Jesse Ship says staying close to home was a pivotal part of Britton’s recovery.

“The community has felt like Britton’s home,” Jesse Ship said. “They’re rallying around, coming over on Saturdays and Sundays, and weeknights and visit. They can stay close to the story.”

Even though he’s become a community inspiration, Britton doesn’t think of himself as a hero. He’s just glad to be able to hang out at home with his friends again.

“I feel like a million bucks,” says Britton. “And I have to say, everyone is awesome.”

Britton still has a long way to go in his recovery, but now the Shipp family says they’ll be able to focus on making up for lost family time. Plans include celebrating Christmas and Thanksgiving together this weekend.