Gracie Fisher

Gracie Fisher, the 17-year-old Santa Barbara High School student diagnosed with a rare and mysterious illness known as acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) late last year, continues to make progress in a rehabilitation hospital in Colorado. She is still paralyzed from the neck down, but she can move her head. She has gained back strength by using an exercise bike and can eat whole foods, though she is still in pain. On March 5, she received an acceptance letter from Berklee College of Music, her dream school.

“It’s been crazy warm here!” Fisher wrote on Monday on her Post Hope webpage by telling her mom what to type. She said she has enjoyed going outside and is feeling more like her old self. Her sister, Emily, helped her Facetime and Snapchat with friends. Her family of four relocated to Colorado in January.

Since August, 115 children — the average age is 8 — across 34 states have been diagnosed with the rare disease. Doctors remain dumbfounded about its cause, though some have linked it to an outbreak of enterovirus D68. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), all patients diagnosed were hospitalized; about two-thirds of the children reported some improvement. Only two of the children have fully recovered.

Support from the community has remained strong as letters and messages continue to flood her hospital room. Family friends have raised tens of thousands of dollars at recent well-attended benefit events. Next Friday, Santa Barbara Junior High School will host a showing of “The Goonies” at 7 pm the Marjorie Luke Theatre. Admission is free and donations are accepted.

On April 26, San Marcos High School will host a day-long race at the on-campus track. And on May 17, a silent auction will take place at the Almenara garden on Santa Barbara’s Upper East Side. People interested can contact Rayanna Cole-Dombroski at


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