Six-year-old Jeremiah Gray, of Jonesborough, was just hitting his stride, developing an early interest in participating in 5K races in the area. He’d recently set a personal-best time of around 32 minutes, which was good for first in his age group, and was hungry for more.
As long as he continued to do well in school and helped earn some money for his race entry, his mom, Rachel, said he could compete in one race a month, much to Jeremiah’s delight.
Unfortunately, Jeremiah’s racing days will be delayed for what doctors foresee as maybe a year and a half following an accident that’s left him in a wheelchair.
It was Oct. 4, Jeremiah’s sister Mykaila’s birthday, when a handful of girls were running and chasing each other around the house at the family’s birthday party for the girl. Jeremiah, who recently turned seven, heard his father, Tim on his riding lawn mower, mowing the property bordering their plot and ran to him.
Tim didn’t hear Jeremiah running toward him as he was backing up, and before he knew it, the machine was on top of the boy’s legs.
“I heard screams before I know what was going on,” Tim said.
Although Jeremiah’s shoes acted as somewhat of a shield to his feet, both of his feet were severely injured in the accident. Rachel believes their untied state allowed him to slip out of them to a certain extent, maybe lessening the damage.
“It could have been a whole lot worse,” Rachel said.
One of Jeremiah’s sisters came in screaming and Tim soon followed with the boy’s bloody feet covered in a towel.
Some of the other parents had been around the party and were able to help control everything as Rachel and Tim tended to their son. Jeremiah immediately went to Niswonger Children’s Hospital, where he would stay a week, and the family learned that his first three toes on his right foot were crushed, he suffered severe damage to his muscles, tendons and arteries and required pins to be placed into his feet.
“Now I can’t run tomorrow,” Jeremiah said in the ambulance on the way to the hospital.
His time in the hospital has been overwhelming for the Gray family as they received immense amounts of love, support, prayers, gifts, cards and visits from many different people.
Rachel says he’s been fighting extremely hard on his way back to health and expects a sound recovery.
“He’ll be up and running in no time,” she said.
Jeremiah said he’s been having the most difficulty with the splint he has to wear, and is settling into being in a wheelchair for most of his day.
For the time being, he’s getting his schooling from a teacher who comes to his house. Still, he gets to go to school for about an hour a day most days of the week. One of the biggest things keeping him out of school is his ability to get up and out of his chair to use the bathroom. His mom says they’re taking it one day at a time, and he could be back at school in full capacity with a few months.
As a temporary fix to his racing itch, he will be using his wheelchair as a vehicle. He’s going to be competing in a 5k at Bristol Motor Speedway just before Thanksgiving on his wheelchair.
One of the highlights in his recovery was a visit from the Embreeville Volunteer Fire Department. Because Jeremiah missed fire prevention day at school, they make a special trip to go see him and give him an up-close look at the fire trucks.
The Gray family has been taking the positives out of the situation and wants to stress that people be extremely careful with lawn mowing, so accidents like this don’t happen more frequently.
Rachel said he’s been enjoying all the cards he’s been receiving. To send a card, address it to: Jeremiah Gray, c/o Cherry Grove Baptist Church, 104 Cherry Grove Road, Jonesborough, TN 37659.