Young Heart Attack Survivor Receives Diploma After Two-Year Deto - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Young Heart Attack Survivor Receives Diploma After Two-Year Detour


DOVER, Del. -- Dark clouds may have loomed over Dover Wednesday evening but hope hovers in the forecast of the 400-plus students who graduated from Dover High School.

Among them was 20-year old Benjamin Knapp, whose journey across the stage for his high school diploma was nothing less than extraordinary.

Back in 2011 while out on a trip with his wrestling team, the then 16-year old Knapp suffered a severe heart attack that caused a brain injury. It left him blind and unable to walk or talk.

Today, Knapp can communicate with family and friends using hand squeezes and facial expressions. Even though his mobility and muscle control is limited, those closest to Knapp say he's still the same old guy.

Wednesday evening Ben's father Chip couldn't have been happier.

"I'm just very proud of everything he's done. He's come so far and a lot of people initially said they didn't think he could come close to what he's accomplishing today," said Chip Knapp.

The new ways Knapp found to communicate gave him and his parents hope that his new life was only just beginning. Knapp's music teacher Brad Whitenight has played an important role in his education since before and after the heart attack.

"I always knew that Ben knew the music, I always knew he loved the music. So it was just being able to get to the point where we could communicate with him. Once we realized that he was the same old Ben it was just getting to the point where we could learn how to work with his disability," said Whitenight.

As Knapp's name was called for him to come across the stage to receive his long-awaited diploma, the entire gymnasium filled to its 2,500 maximum capacity applauded Knapp in a standing ovation.

"Ben and all the things that he's accomplished and all the things that he's done couldn't have happened without all of the community's support," said Chip Knapp.

And Ben's school and his community have supported him each step of the way. During the ceremony, graduating students presented a check that will go toward the Ben Knapp Medical Fund.

Despite all of the obstacles Knapp has faced in the last few years and the challenges he faces on the road ahead, Ben's father says anything is possible and college might even be the next stop.

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