Bloomsburg , Columbia Co. (WOLF) — A Bloomsburg University Graduate worked to defy all odds after enduring a severe brain injury his freshman year.
On February 23, 2014, then-19-year-old Jackie Lithgow's life was changed forever.
While trying to break up a fight outside of a party, he was punched in the temple — causing his head to smash into the sidewalk.
Now, 7 years later, after years of therapy and perseverance, he received his diploma from Bloomsburg University.
"Fell over cracked my skull open and was in a coma for 15 days, had to get life flighted to Geisinger, Danville Geisinger so that's a trauma one. So I got life flighted to Geisinger and then my journey really started," Jackie Lithgow explained.
Over 90% of patients with this type of injury never regain consciousness and if they do, are significantly impaired.
"You know people would come in and they would look at you in a way that was just like they felt very sorry for you or docs would come in and not with a great prognosis, but we could see him in there I mean we knew he was there we knew it was going to take sometime, but we just new, we knew he could get back it was just a matter of taking the time," Lisa Lithgow said.
"When he opened his eyes, you saw it in his eyes. He was in there," Jim Lithgow explained.
Jackie had to learn how to walk again and has gone through years of in patient and out patient therapy.
"My main goal was to get back to Bloomsburg and finish my degree," Jackie Lithgow said.
Today, Jackie accomplished that goal by graduating with a Bachelor's Degree in Media and Journalism.
"You know we kind of always here about how instructors and teachers impact their students, but when you get a student like Jackie. He impacts you," Jason Genovese, Jackie's Advisor and Chair Person for the Media and Journalism department at Bloomsburg University.
"All those people out there that got him here. It wasn't just us. It was a total team effort. From Bloom, to doctors to therapist so for all those people...to see him watch him do this is pretty cool," Jim Lithgow said.
"It's gonna be joy, it's gonna be relief, it's gonna be gratitude. I think there and accomplishment. I think there's gonna be a lot of feelings all at once that are gonna hit me at once so I don't know what my physical reaction is gonna be, but I just know that I am going to be really thrilled and I am going to be really happy that I have gone through all this and really happy to be graduating from college because like I said that was a goal," Jackie Lithgow explained.
During his recovery Jackie wanted to help others and decided to start the Jackie Lithgow Foundation to support traumatic brain injury survivors during their road to recovery. Jackie will start his professional Journey in June with a marketing internship.