An Alexandria man, who was left paralyzed by a tragic car accident two years ago in DeKalb County, was surprised with a full tuition-paid, four-year grant to Colorado Technical University on the nationally televised Ricki Lake Show Monday.
The grant, presented to 20-year-old Kyle Thomas, will help him pursue his dream of earning a college degree. The grant was announced as part of the show's "Hidden Heroes" series led by cosmetic dentist and TV personality Dr. Bill Dorfman.
In October 2010, as a recent high school graduate, Thomas was nearly killed in a one car crash on Highway 70 near the stock barn in Alexandria. The Tennessee Highway Patrol told WJLE that night that Thomas was driving a 2004 Chevrolet Cavalier when he lost control and wrecked. The car flipped over on it's top and Thomas, who was partially ejected and pinned underneath the vehicle, had to be extricated. Thomas was removed from the car and taken by ground ambulance to the Lebanon airport where he was airlifted to Vanderbilt Hospital in Nashville.
His resulting injuries left him without use of his arms and legs, but it was Thomas' can-do attitude during his recovery that got the attention of Dr. Dorfman. "When I first met Kyle he told me that he wants to help people. I believe he will," said Dr. Dorfman, who brought together community residents - or "hidden heroes" - to help Thomas and his family.
The community support led by writer and producer John Loyd Miller has included renovations to make the Thomas' home accessible - and now includes the CTU grant. "When we heard about Kyle's journey and the tremendous efforts he has made to rebuild his life, we felt we could support him by assisting him with his college education," said Jack Koehn, CTU acting president and chief operating officer.
Thomas plans to use the CTU grant to earn his bachelor's degree through Colorado Technical University's award-winning virtual campus, which offers flexibility in taking classes online, from anywhere and anytime.
He began attending classes online in January 2013."Our team of advisors and faculty members are committed to helping Kyle achieve his dream of higher education and surrounding him with the support he needs to help him be successful in the degree program of his choosing," Koehn said.
"As a Colorado Technical University online student, Kyle will also be able to use our trademarked personalized learning system, called My Unique Student Experience (M.U.S.E.), which will allow him to study and learn in ways that work best for him."
"I am so grateful to Dr. Dorfman and to CTU for their support and giving me hope to continue my education and help others," said Thomas, who now has limited use of his arms and serves as a motivational speaker for other young adults. "I won't ever give up. I'm going to take on the challenge of earning my college degree just as I took on the challenge of recovering from my accident."