Toms River Regional Schools sent its high school seniors off to college with graduation ceremonies this past Friday. High School East had one very special graduate: Caleb Thompson.

Graduation for him was not just about receiving his diploma, but walking up there to get it.

Just days before beginning his senior year last September, Thompson was enjoying his last couple of days of summer vacation on the beach in Seaside Park. A wave hit him causing his neck to snap back and hit the sand crushing his C5 vertebra and fracturing his C6 vertebra, according to a Shore Sports Network article from September.

He was able to return home from a West Orange rehabilitation hospital in November. He returned to school in February and told his doctors that he wanted to walk for graduation - he did just that. Thompson was able to walk and drive again by New Year's, according to Team Caleb97, the Facebook page that has chronicled his journey, and ultimately walk across the football field with his fellow Raiders last week.

Throughout the year the Toms River community showed their support for Caleb and his mother, Natalie, by setting up a variety of fundraisers including t-shirts sold by East's football team with the logo "Team Caleb." He also received an Unsung Hero Award from the Ocean County Association of School Superintendents.

Thompson plans to attend Babson College in Boston, in the fall according to the Facebook page, but not before he sent a shout- out to his class:

Twitter: Caleb @crock222
Twitter: Caleb @crock222

 Congratulations to Caleb Thompson and the entire class of 2015!

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