Saturday marked the seventh practice of 2014 XFINITY® Atlanta Falcons Training Camp at Flowery Branch, and it was a day no different than the last six, except for the attendance of the Heitzman family, friends of Falcons Owner and Chairman Arthur Blank, Angie Macuga and her daughter, Emily Macuga.
Christ Heitzman, a 20-year-old from Marietta, Ga., was in a car accident in July 2012, just two months after graduating from Lassiter High School, and a few short weeks before starting the next chapter of his life at Georgia College and State University, where he had a scholarship with the baseball team.
Since the accident, Heitzman has been doing outpatient therapy every day of the week at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta. The therapy he is undergoing is physical, occupational, speech, water and, starting next week, hippotherapy, a type of therapy where a horse is used.
Because of the extent of his injuries, each area of his body needs attention. Together, the doctors and the Heitzman’s are “trying to assign time for each area to recover,” Heitzman’s mom, Debbie, said.
Still, days like Saturday, although emotional, the support and love the family has received still gets to them.
“It’s amazing,” Mrs. Heitzman said. “For Angie and Mr. Blank to invite us here today, we were just over the moon.”
“Seeing his friends and the community that have supported him since the accident is astounding,” she continued. “You know, it’s not us, it’s him. He gained all that respect himself before the accident, and so people have just been repaying. We found all these stories we never knew about where he was a mentor to these younger kids and had done all this stuff. He’s just such a good person”
After the accident, Heitzman was unable to walk because one of his feet was twisted due to his brain injury, the most severe injury he received. After an extensive surgery, his foot was straightened, and the sheer determination to walk again helped him achieve the goal four months ago.
On Saturday, Heitzman stood on the field near professional athletes, a feat in itself, with friends and family close by, just like they have been since the day of the accident.
“Christopher was an amazing student and athlete, and I think he still sees himself in that light of being out here on the field with teammates, well he sees them as teammates, with the elite,” Mrs. Heitzman said.
For families who are going through a similar situation, Heitzman’s mom says to “be strong and be together.”
“Just doing everything you possibly can humanly do to help them get back on their feet” helps them," she said.