Download Full Article Here
By: Lee Ann Swartzentruber
When Cassidi Gant graduated from North Bay Haven High School (NBH) in 2016, she was the first athlete from the charter school to sign a Division I (DI) college scholarship.
Gant was a stellar student and athlete, and she had inked her signature to play volleyball at Jackson State University (JSU) in Jackson, MS. She was the NBH MVP of the year Stu¬dent-Athlete and named one of Bay County’s Top Five Student-Athletes in 2016.
Three days after high school graduation, she left Florida and traveled to MS to enroll at JSU where she would complete 12 hours that summer towards her Stem Major (Studies in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics).
She was scheduled to finish the summer program on August 4th and then begin her volleyball season three days later. Cassidi decided to take a quick trip home to visit with her family in FL before her season began.
“I was driving through a town called Lucedale, MS when it started raining really bad. I hydroplaned and hit a guardrail. I was ejected from the vehicle, landing in a ditch, but two truck drivers saved me. I spent many hours in surgery to repair my broken femur, then four days in the hospital in Hattiesburg, MS, followed by 12 days in HealthSouth in Panama City,” remembers Cassidi.
When she first woke up in the hospital, she began crying at the thought of her volleyball career being over. “It was a hard time for me. My father looked at me and told me I was going to be okay, and from then on, I knew I had to work hard if I ever wanted to play volleyball again. My family motivated me. The feeling of people wanting to see me improve motivated me. I had so many people on my side that wanted to see me succeed,” shared Cassidi.
She received many letters, cards, and gifts from family, friends and others - it made her realize she had a mega support system in place. “I really felt the love, and I knew I had to get back on the court. From the moment I checked into HealthSouth, they pushed me to keep going. I had to learn how to do the little things in life again. I had to learn how to maneuver around in a wheelchair with a broken hand too,” said Cassidi.
I asked Desiree Gant what it was like as a parent to go through this experience with her daughter. “I feel like we are watching a made-for-TV movie which has taken me from the scariest moments of my life to some of the happiest moments, and with God’s blessings, more to come,” explains Desiree. “To understand the levels of her accident I must begin with the fact that she was thrown from the vehicle in a rainstorm and crawled her way back to the car, bleeding with a broken femur. She had to endure a 53-mile ride in the ambulance to get to the nearest hospital that could handle her trauma. She underwent a six-hour surgery to repair her femur and add a titanium rod and screws. With her leg broken, hand broken and face burned, this child battled with courage and conviction that one day she would play sports again!! She learned to walk, she learned to run, and she learned to hit her beloved volleyball again.
DO NOT EVER SAY WHAT GOD CAN’T DO FOR YOU!”