An 18-year-old who had recently graduated from St. Francis High School in St. Francis, Minnesota, received multiple traumatic brain injuries when a drunk driver hit him. According to an article in the Duluth News Tribune, Alex Balluff ‘was left in a vegetative state, his mother said, with severe brain injuries and contusions to his right kidney and spleen after being struck by an alleged hit-and-run drunk driver.’ The boy was a student at Anoka-Ramsey Community College when the accident changed his life forever.
Thankfully, Alex did not remain in a coma for very long. Alex has come a very long way since the days following his terrible accident. His former basketball coach at St. Francis High School, Ron Larsen, visited Alex during a recent rehabilitation session at Fairview Hospital in Minneapolis. The News Tribune article reported that Larson tossed a basketball to Alex, who surprised his family and doctors alike when he was able to toss the ball back to his coach.
It was a moment that was both empowering and difficult for Larson and Alex, because both of them remembered Alex’s former aptitude for athletics. Larson told Alex that basketball practice would start again, ‘Whenever you’re ready, Alex. Whenever you’re ready,’ reported the News Tribune.
The driver who allegedly hit Alex and his friends is in jail awaiting trial in Minnesota. Julie Ann Gronski was charged with 8 different crimes related to the drunk driving incident that left Alex with brain injuries.
Alex’s mother, Debbie Balluff, was optimistic and said in the article that she maintains hope that her son will achieve a full recovery from his injuries. She lamented her son’s loss of memory of the last 2-3 years of his life, while still remaining excited about his progress. She told the News Tribune, ‘He doesn’t remember graduating. It’s just a miracle that in these 60 days Alex has relearned how to walk, talk, eat and do everything from lifting his arms to holding his head up.’ She envisions her son playing basketball again one day.
Duluth News Tribune. (January 10, 2010) ‘Teen’s recovery a miracle, mom says.’ Retrieved on January 10, 2010 from the Duluth News Tribune Web site:http://www.duluthnewstribune.com/event/article/id/157089/