Grace Fisher, the 17-year-old girl diagnosed last December with acute flaccid myelitis (AFM), is improving slowly but surely at Craig Hospital in Denver. Still paralyzed from the neck down, Fisher shows improvement each week, said family friend Mary Ann Everett. She can hold her head up, speak, and eat whole foods. Their goal is to get her liberated from the respirator and breathing on her own as soon as possible.

Autumn Box, a student in Santa Barbara High School’s VADA (Visual Arts & Design Academy) department, created this logo for the event "Race With Grace" on April 26.

Recently, Fisher has been able to use a mouth stick to paint and type messages on an iPad. A young musician who was recently accepted to Berkelee College of Music, Fisher asked her mom for an electronic keyboard to practice on. Fisher, committed as usual, started to play works by Chopin. “Don’t you want to start with something easier?” asked her mom, Debbie. Last week, her grandparents spent the week with her.

Little is still known about her rare illness. Since last August, 115 children have been diagnosed with AFM. Of those, two have fully recovered. Her doctor and family are advocating for her to stay at Craig as long as possible. Debbie and Grace’s dad, Bill, are both physical therapists. The community has also showed great support. “It’s really nice to see the teenagers,” Everett said. “There’s a lot of involvement.”

This Sunday, April 26, the Santa Barbara Firefighters Association is hosting “Race With Grace,” which will take place at San Marco High School’s track from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. So far, 35 teams have signed up; each will consecutively complete a marathon, or 104 laps. Their goal is to raise $55,000 to buy a van for the family so they can be active in the community once they return from Denver. They have reached nearly $50,000 so far. For more information, you can visit


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