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Boise mom overcomes horrific car crash to walk during her graduation with her daughter

Ashley Zumbrunnen was partially paralyzed from a car crash in 2010, but thanks to a special medical treatment at St. Luke's, she was able to walk with her daughter when she received her degree from Boise State.

Ashley Zumbrunnen was partially paralyzed in a car accident in 2010. The Boise woman says while she was typing a text message when she crossed Highway 55 right into oncoming traffic.

"I was in a car accident, February 20, 2010. I was texting and driving at the time, I lost control of my vehicle and flipped. I broke my neck," Ashley said.

She had to relearn how to do everything, and walking again didn't come easy. That was really tough for her 12-year-old daughter, Val, to watch.

"It was very hard because all my life I've had her with crutches and in a wheelchair, and not seeing her be able to walk, it was very emotional for me," Val said.

Two years ago, Ashley started some new physical therapy at St. Luke's Rehabilitation that she says changed her life.

"They have a functional electrical stimulation bike, and I was told about this and they said you have to try it out," says Ashley

She got stronger than she could have ever imagined. She says she's more stable and has better function in her paralyzed leg.

Ashley also went back to school at Boise State University, and she was determined to get her degree in Psychology. When graduation rolled around, Ashley asked Boise State for a special favor.

"Since I worked so hard in school, I wanted to walk without my forearm crutches. I wanted to walk, and I wanted to walk with my daughter,' she said.

Boise State gave her the go ahead. Ashley graduated last month. On her cap, she wrote, "Paralyzed, now walking". She says her dream of graduating with her daughter by her side, was coming true.

"I could see in the corner of my eye my daughter coming down, and it was like holy moly, I have my daughter and I'm going to walk!" says Ashley

Val knew this was a huge defining moment for her mom.

"I was really scared for her because she didn't have her crutches, the only thing she had to rely on was me. I put all my focus on her just in case something might have given out or she might have stumbled. If she fell, I would catch her and try to get her back on her balance." Val said.

On that special day in December, Ashley and Val accepted that hard-earned diploma together.

"The adrenaline maybe just kicked in, but when I took that first step it was the beginning of more steps to come," says Ashley

Val told us she hopes her mom will walk with her at her graduation one day, too.

Nine years after her accident, Ashley Zumbrunnen continues to inspire people everywhere she goes, especially her little girl. 

Ashley is now working toward becoming a school psychologist, she's hoping to work with children with disabilities and special needs.

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