Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Oshay Makes It Home for Holidays; the Teen Who Suffered a Spinal Cord Injury Is Back for Christmas; for His Dad, It's "The Best Present."

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Oshay Makes It Home for Holidays; the Teen Who Suffered a Spinal Cord Injury Is Back for Christmas; for His Dad, It's "The Best Present."

Article excerpt

Byline: MARK WOODS

SANDERSON - This time the sirens were a signal to rejoice.

Milton Oshay Johnson returned home Wednesday for the first time since Aug. 19 - the day the 16-year-old suffered a spinal cord injury during a Baker County High School football practice.

Johnson was making a tackle when he fractured his C-3 verterbrae, leaving him paralyzed from the neck down. He had spent more than four months at a series of medical facilities - Shands Jacksonville, the Shepherd Center in Atlanta and Select Specialty Hospital in Gainesville.

While at the Shepherd Center, Johnson repeatedly told doctors, "I just want to be home for Christmas."

Wednesday, he got his wish.

He was released from Select Specialty and put in an ambulance to be transported back to Sanderson. At the Baker-Union county line, the ambulance was met by Baker County Sheriff's Office cars. The caravan of vehicles drove down County Road 229, sirens blaring.

About two dozen friends and neighbors waited in Johnson's front yard.

And shortly before 3 p.m., the ambulance arrived. The back doors opened and Johnson, lying on a stretcher and wearing his red Baker County letter jacket with a No. 21 patch stitched on it, was wheeled out.

The crowd broke into applause.

"You're home, buddy," one of the paramedics said.

Much of the place remains the same as when he left it, heading out the door to catch the bus to school on Aug. 19. But a few things have changed. There is a generator behind the trailer and a metal ramp in front of it.

After Johnson was wheeled up the metal ramp, which was decorated with blue and silver garland, the paramedics lifted him onto a hospital bed in the family's living room. This will be his room until next spring, when a house being built by the community is expected to be completed.

As he was greeted by a steady stream of friends, he repeatedly flashed a big grin. …

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