Calgary family turns tragedy into triumph

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Calgary family turns tragedy into triumph

A year after being hit by a pickup truck, a Calgary boy is making a miraculous recovery.

Last March, Ethan Nielson, who was eight at the time, was walking home from a piano lesson when he was hit by a truck while crossing Cranford Drive S.E.

The driver remained at the scene.

The youngster was rushed to South Health Campus where he was stabilized before being airlifted to Alberta Children's Hospital (ACH).

Doctors said he suffered a severe brain injury — along with a broken pelvis and broken bones around his ear and eye — and wasn't expected to live.

But a year later he's getting stronger by the day and is able to walk, talk, and play.

And now his family wants to give back to the facility that helped save him.

"They healed Ethan and in doing so they gave me my whole family back," mom Melanie Nielson told CBC News.

In an effort to give back, the Nielson family organized a toy drive, collecting hundreds of gifts over the weekend which will be donated to the Alberta Children's Hospital Foundation.

"We weren't really sure how many people to expect, we were hoping it would be quite a few ... it's been fantastic," said dad, Jordan Nielson.

All told, the family estimates the event brought in about $10,000 worth of toys along with about $1,000 in gift cards. 

Staff at ACH didn't just operate on Ethan, says Melanie, they cared.

"They've got stuff in place to help you when you're at your darkest, when you're at your worst, when you don't know what to expect," she said.

"They're there to help you along. So that's what this is going to do. It's going to help some other little boy or little girl who's going to have a surprise at the hospital and they're going to be able to go into it happy and have a smile on their face and they're going to try harder and they're going to do better because they're happy and it makes a big difference."

Melanie remembers hospital staff giving her son a stuffed animal to grip as he was being rushed into an emergency surgery.

"He had that in his hand to go, as he was wheeled off away from me, and I'm so grateful that he had something," she said.

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