ANKENY, Iowa - A West Des Moines teen battling a brain injury he was diagnosed with in the spring of 2013 was dancing today for his 18th birthday.
T.J. Denham was a 17-year-old student at Valley High School when he discovered he had a heart defect. This resulted in a brain injury that has left him cognitively sharp, but physically challenged. Throughout the last year, he has slowly recovered some of his physical abilities back - he even raced in a 5k with his sisters in May via bicycle.
But today at the On With Life Brain Rehabilitation Center in Ankeny, staff and fellow patients gathered for his 18th birthday party. And while singing "Happy Birthday" is traditional, dancing to loud music isn't. Staff members said Denham loves listening to music and dancing, so they thought a dance party was only appropriate.
"I'm just so happy for him to get to celebrate it like this this year," said Kelly Denham, his mother. "Last year he was in ICU and we propped his head up on a pillow, sat his presents around him and took a picture, and then he went back to bed. So this was a nice change for him."
On With Life broke ground last week on an expansion project at their location in Ankeny.