On Christmas Eve 2012, Noah Barbknecht, then a freshman at Northrop High School, was in a skiing accident in Vermont that left him critically injured. After the accident, family members reported that he had suffered multiple facial fractures, a broken neck, broken ribs, collapsed lungs, and a spinal fracture that left him paralyzed from the breast bone down. Noah was in intensive care for more than 30 days and spent nearly three months in a spinal rehabilitation center in Georgia before coming back home to Indiana.
“I was going to do what I had to do, so I can get through it because I wanted to get back to school too,” Noah said.
A year and one month after the accident, Noah is making strides in his recovery process.
“As long as you keep taking one more step, you’re going to reach the goal,” Noah said.
While in rehab, he took online classes until he was able to go back to school last April. The sophomore is on track to graduate on time.
On afternoon Friday, he had his car converted to handicap steering. He has learned how to get into his car, breakdown his wheelchair and drive his new vehicle. Now, he has 50 hours of driving time with his parents before he can get his license.
“At 16-years-old Noah, would get a driver’s license like everybody else,” his father, Jason Barbknecht said.
His parents said the year has had it’s challenges.
“This year went so fast, but we did so much and changed so much that it’s almost like Noah’s always been in a wheelchair,” Jason said. “It’s not a shock to us anymore.”
The family bought a new house that’s more handicap accessible. Noah even got new hunting gear, including an all-terrain chair that allows him to navigate through the woods, so he could keep doing his favorite hobby.
However, he said there are still daily tasks that he took for granted before his accident that are difficult like getting items off of high shelves. He said once he gets his license he’s making a long-term goal.
“Being able to walk around even just for a little bit would be nice…Anything is possible,” Noah said.
On February 1, Noah will be receiving The Pathfinder Award at the Coliseum which honors people who’ve been disabled but still give back to the community and find a way to continue their outdoor activities with their new lifestyle.