Braxton Miller has goals for 2020.
He wants to get rid of the eye patch that is protecting his right eye while it heals from a corneal abrasion. He wants to get strong enough to use the zipline at physical therapy. He also wants to show his dairy steer and turkeys at the Erie County Fair.
It’s been six months since the accident that paralyzed 9-year-old Braxton and injured his three sisters.
Last summer, Braxton and Abbygail were supposed to show their animals at the Erie County Fair. It was Braxton’s first time raising a dairy calf and turkeys for 4-H.
But the four Miller children and their mother, JanMarie, were in a car accident July 24, two weeks before the fair was set to open. The children were unable to attend the fair.
Other members of their 4-H club showed the Millers’ animals for them. When it came time for the small project auction, Braxton’s turkeys and Abbygail’s chickens sold for a combined $23,000, thanks to enormous support from the community.
A family member bought Braxton’s calf back at the auction, so he can continue raising it and show it again next year.
Braxton spent about two weeks in the intensive care unit after the accident. Braxton had a spinal cord injury, broken pelvis and a head injury. He is paralyzed from mid-chest down, but has full use of his arms.
Then he was moved to the Cleveland Clinic’s Children’s Hospital for Rehabilitation, where he spent more than three months.
“He was really almost infant-like. From the injuries he had, he couldn’t sit up. He had a trach in. He was on a ventilator,” said John Miller, Braxton’s father.
It was rough on everyone while Braxton was in Cleveland. He was undergoing intense therapy to regain some of the function he’d lost after the accident. He was away from his family.
It was harvest time too. John Miller works full time on the family farm, where they raise corn, beans and wheat and make straw.
John Miller said he would try to spend the night at the hospital every other night, then go back home during the day to harvest. It was a 74-mile drive one way.
“That was hard,” he said. “Being a farm kid, [Braxton] understood that you’ve got to get stuff done.”
Braxton came home, to Castalia, Ohio, Nov. 25.
When he went back to Margaretta Elementary School, Dec. 2, he was welcomed by hallways lined with classmates holding signs and cheering him on.
“It made me feel good,” Braxton said. “They did a lot of stuff for me.”
Braxton is getting physical therapy during the day at school and at a facility in town. John Miller said Braxton’s school has been incredibly accommodating to their new reality. He’s also thankful for everyone who donated money, sent cards and letters and supported the family after the accident.
Moving on up
Braxton’s calf, Buck, was tagged for the 2020 Erie County Fair, Dec. 10. Braxton has been to the barn to see Buck a few times since he got home.
“He likes to be petted. He’s a good cow,” Braxton said.
John Miller said Braxton was “grinning ear to ear” the last time he visited the calf.
He has a batch of turkeys coming in March. Raising animals and getting them ready for the fair is hard work, but it’s something Braxton enjoys.
“It’s a lot of work, but it’s fun,” Braxton said.
How he will walk Buck around the showring is still a question. They want to get Braxton some kind of all-terrain, powered wheelchair that would allow him to get around easier. That’s something they’re currently raising money to buy.
Monetary donations to help Braxton get an all-terrain wheelchair may be sent to:
• Castalia Miller Kids, P.O. Box 1, Castalia, OH 44824
• Paypal to CastaliaMillerKids@gmail.com
“We’re trying to get him as mobile as he can be,” John Miller said.
To keep up with his siblings, his dad built Braxton a bike that he can pedal with his hands. He also got him a hoverboard for Christmas with an attachment so he can ride while sitting.
“He still has his spirit,” John Miller said. “I have to remind him sometimes to slow down.”
(Reporter Rachel Wagoner can be contacted at 800-837-3419 or firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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