Hirdler overcomes obstacles; is named Outstanding Student

Chris Hirdler overheard doctors tell his family a devastating, life-changing message: chances were, he would never walk again.

His first reaction: I'd rather die than not walk again. His follow-up response: I'll show them - I will walk again.

Hirdler, son of Dale and Jayne Hirdler of New Prague, underwent thousands of hours of grueling physical therapy to prove the doctors wrong. Not only has he managed to walk again since breaking his neck in June, 2005, he has redirected his life. A self-described party animal in his teens and early 20s, a more purposeful Hirdler graduated with academic honors from Metropolitan State University on December 16.

He walked across the stage, with a slight limp, to pick up his diploma.

If you had told me three years ago that I'd be getting a bachelors' degree

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