Ike Ditzenberger's remarkable recovery lifts Snohomish
Snohomish's Ike Ditzenberger is back, writing the latest chapter in his inspirational story.
For 17 days this fall, Ditzenberger lay in a hospital bed in intensive care at the University of Washington Medical Center fighting the battle of his life, for his life.
There were days when doctors didn't expect him to live. They were worried that the damage to Ditzenberger's lungs caused by pneumonia was too extensive.
"They were preparing us for Ike's death," Kay Ditzenberger, Ike's mother, said recently.
When news of Ike's illness spread, Kay said she received notes of support and prayers from around the world. People the family didn't know wrote about the connection they felt with the Ditzenberger family.
After he had spent more than a week in ICU, often strapped down by restraints to protect him from ripping out the tubes that were delivering air into his lungs and feeding him and keeping him alive, a tracheotomy was performed on Ike.
"After that, he quickly turned the corner," his mother said.
Two years ago, Ike Ditzenberger, who has Down Syndrome, became a YouTube sensation after his 51-yard touchdown run for Snohomish High School in a game against Lake Stevens, a run that was exhilarating and inspirational.
In March 2011, he received the Seattle Children's Inspirational Youth Award and moved many to tears in the audience at Benaroya Hall with his acceptance speech.
He continues to inspire.
Ike is out of the hospital and back taking classes at Snohomish. Several Saturdays ago, Lake Stevens, a rival high school, held an Ike Night, welcoming him back. Large banners at the school told him, "We're Glad You're Back."
"There's just something about Ike that has a unifying effect on people," Kay said.
This week Ditzenberger, who has been a four-year member of the Snohomish football team, is expected to return to sports, rejoining the wrestling team.
It's just another success story for a remarkable young man, but this isn't the only news about Ike that is worth celebrating.
Ike, 19, who calls himself a "Super Senior," no longer is taking special education courses. His course load at Snohomish includes English, Science, Shop, Leadership, Acting and History.
His goal is to go to college and eventually become completely independent. He wants to become an assistant coach and follow in the footsteps of his coach and mentor at Snohomish, Mark Perry.
Ike will graduate from high school with the class of 2014. But that will be just the next step in a journey that, he has decided, has no boundaries, only challenges he fearlessly accepts.
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