ESS 2021: Student lost leg, but not his positive outlook
September 20, 2021
Adrian Grajeda
Grade: 12 School: Palm Desert High School District: Desert Sands USD ACSA region: 19 Life can change dramatically in just a few seconds. It took only that long for a piece of shrapnel from a car crash to cause Adrian Grajeda to lose his lower leg at 10 years old. He spent the following years learning to walk again with a prosthetic leg and adjusting to the extreme change in his life.
With a positive attitude, a deeply supportive family, inner strength and resilience, Adrian found inspiration from those around him, including from his participation in a Wounded Warrior program. As the years went on, he played football in school, walked the 2019 Rose Parade with the Donate for Life float and learned to surf. Adrian plans to attend College of the Desert this fall, and will no doubt continue to thrive.
How did one day, October 23rd, 2013, shape your life? When I was 10 years old, it was recess for elementary school and I went out to go play soccer. I was just kicking soccer balls with my friends. And at the intersection, a drunk driver ran through the fence. And some of the metal sliced my leg and damaged all my nerves and hit severe arteries. I fell on the ground, but the teachers helped me, and I was able to get to a hospital.
To be 10 and have to deal with something so tragic, how did you react to all of it? When I was in middle school, it was super tough going through all of it. And I also had nightmares. I just wanted to be normal.
What type of role did the school community play in those early stages after the accident? I’m super grateful for a lot of the teachers. When my accident happened, there were plenty of teachers who went over there and helped me. One of them took off their shirt and tied it around my leg to try and stop the bleeding. They did everything they could. And then the coaches ­­– I developed a bond with them helping me through it.

You participated in a Wounded Warriors camp not long after the accident. How much did that change your mindset and how you approached things today? The Wounded Warriors camp really helped me a lot. Just seeing older people and kids just like me everywhere, it helped me realize that I’m not the only one. And I’m not just a weirdo. I’m just different. Seeing older people living their everyday lives and doing everything perfectly, it really was inspiring. It made me want to grow up and be great just like them.
For all of the students who might be facing similar situations, especially medical trauma, what would your advice be to them? I would tell them to try their best regardless of their situation. I know that there’s only so much you can do. But I would say don’t take pity on yourself and give it your all no matter what. You may be different, but everybody has their own problems. And you have to fight through them and give it your all.
Region 19 2021 ESS Adrian Grajeda.
Region 19 2021 ESS Adrian Grajeda.
Region 19 2021 ESS Adrian Grajeda.
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