Paralyzed Clovis teen finds strength through new mentor Paralympian Brent Poppen

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- 13-year-old Makai Lloren wanted his classmates at Alta Sierra Middle School to know more about Paralympian Brent Poppen.

The two first met at Valley Children's Hospital after Makai damaged his C6 and C7 vertebrae in a trampoline accident in January.

"He's helped me deal with my strength and help me with my mobility and stuff," Makai said.

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Poppen says it's important that Makai know it is OK to have a bad day.

"But still understanding at the end of that darkness or that tough time there's a big light at the end of the tunnel for you," he said.

Lloren says Poppen's visit helps those on campus learn more about spinal cord injuries.

"I can move my right hand a little," he said. "And I can move my arms and stuff."

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"I related because I got paralyzed when I was 16 from injuries in a wrestling accident," Poppen said.

The accident occurred at a church camp at Hume Lake in 2009, but Poppen never stopped playing sports. He told the kids maybe one of them holds the key to healing patients in wheelchairs.

"I just hope someday they'll find a cure to help me walk again," Makai said.

Poppen lives in Paso Robles but works with the severely injured at Valley Children's Hospital.

"I hope that Makai is one of those people that, maybe in ten years, he gets his life experience, his education, and takes over my role at the hospital," he said.

Makai Lloren told Action News nothing has been especially tough during this challenge. He's just enjoying school and hanging out with his friends.
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