Teen defies odds, takes amazing graduation walk
Zack Lystedt walked tall at his high school graduation Friday night, taking steps he was told he might never be able to.
As CBS News correspondent John Blackstone reported on "The Early Show Saturday Edition," the Seattle-area teen almost died from a concussion he sustained in a school football game five years ago.
He'd been in a wheel chair since then -- until last night -- when he took the walk of a lifetime.
And now, because of him, 23 states have laws protecting high school athletes from head injuries.
Blackstone explains that, when Lystedt was 13, he took a blow to the head while making a tackle. He was dazed but kept playing - then collapsed.
"I was begging God to keep him alive," Zack's father, Victor Lystedt, recalls.
Zack had suffered a "second impact" concussion after the first hit.
"It's very important for the brain to have enough time to heal adequately," points out Dr. Vernon Williams of the Sports Concussion Institute.
Only five years ago, Blackstone notes, few coaches were aware of the danger of taking hard hits -- too lightly.
But, stresses Richard Adler of the Brain Injury Association, "A concussion is a brain injury; all brain injuries are serious."
Zack had multiple surgeries. It was a year before he could even speak, and there appeared to be little hope he'd ever walk again.
But, says Blackstone, Zack evolved into the face, and his parents, the voice, of a movement.
Zack's home state of Washington became the first to adopt a "Lystedt Law" requiring young athletes who've suffered concussions to get medical clearance before competing again.
Victor Lystedt called it "a great day for the country, because we're gonna be able to save kids' lives."
Twenty-two other states now have Lystedt Laws. Even the National Football League has looked to Zack to spread awareness about concussions.
All the while, day after day, month after painful month, Zack had shown improvement, and was finally able to return to school.
And Friday night, at the graduation ceremony in Tahoma High School, in Covington, Wash., near Seattle, the teen who was told he might be forever wheelchair-bound -- walked to receive his diploma - and got a standing ovation.
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