‘God flipped the switch’: Virginia teen walks in graduation ceremony after 5-month coma

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NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — A Portsmouth senior is beating the odds and doing something she dreamed of from her hospital bed: walk across the stage to receive her high school diploma. 

Tonasia “Nada” Edwards suffered a traumatic brain injury after a Chesapeake car crash in 2017. Nada was behind the wheel when she got into an accident at the intersection of Deep Creek Boulevard and Military Highway in Chesapeake.

Nada’s mother, Alice Edwards, says loved ones leaned on their faith while Nada was unconscious for about five months. Finally, on March 7, she got a call from the nurses at CHOR that her daughter had lifted her leg and arm while getting a bath.

The then 16-year-old received physical, occupational and speech therapy at Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters (CHKD) after spending six months between Sentara Norfolk General Hospital and Children’s Hospital of Richmond (CHOR).  

She told 10 On Your Side she wanted to walk at her graduation. On June 15, Nada did just that with a roar of applause. “I felt amazing,” Nada said. “It’s just wonderful, yeah. I never did that.” Nada was shocked at her ability to stand straight up.

She practiced for months in therapy with her mom by her side. “It was amazing. I really feel the same way, God flipped the switch and woke her up, he kind of like took his hands and pushed her up, literally, the day of her graduation was her first time standing on her own,” said Alice. “To think just a year and a half ago, we didn’t even know if she was going to come home, and now she walked and graduated. To see what she did on Saturday, it gave her the strength she has today.”

Nada is gearing up for Norfolk State University in the fall.

But her story doesn’t stop there. On Wednesday,  Nada received a $25,000 Beat the Odds scholarship! She wrote an essay explaining how she beat the odds. 

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