It's been more than a year since a hit-and-run driver struck Temple Law School student Tony Foltz as he was walking across the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, critically injuring him.
On Thursday, Foltz graduated and was one of two students who received the Crossen Award, given to students who overcome adversity and persevere in getting their law degree.
"It's been tough," he said of the past year, during a brief interview after the award ceremony. "I've just been working really hard to get back on my feet."
Foltz, 26, walked to receive his award from his seat onstage at the ceremony in Mitten Hall, amid dozens of other students who received awards for academic achievement, writing, trial advocacy and community contributions.
He would have graduated last year if not for the accident, which caused severe head trauma, brain bruising and fractures to his right leg and arm. After spending about a month at Hahnemann University Hospital and about six weeks as an inpatient at Magee Rehabilitation, he had further treatment at Magee, then at Albert Einstein Medical Center's MossRehab.
"Right now, I'm feeling great," Foltz, the eldest of four children, said, adding that he was "happy and thankful." He "eventually will be taking the bar exam" and needs another surgery for his right arm.
There are many happy things for Foltz to look forward to - one of his two younger sisters is to graduate from Fordham University tomorrow, and his brother will graduate from St. Joseph's Prep in a couple of weeks.
And the family will be taking a bike trip in Southern California from Santa Barbara to the Mexican border, added Foltz's father, Richard Foltz Jr., a partner at the Pepper Hamilton law firm.
Tony Foltz had been walking north on 22nd Street, crossing the Parkway, about 2 a.m. April 11, 2010. A white Subaru speeding west on the parkway, driven by then-Temple senior Nick Hasselback, plowed into him, then fled.
Hasselback, 23, of Ephrata, Lancaster County, who was living in East Falls while at Temple, is serving a three to six year sentence in state prison after pleading guilty to aggravated assault and to leaving the scene of an accident.
Yesterday's Crossen Award also went to Brian Grubb, of Wernersville, Berks County, who was not at the award ceremony. As an undergrad at Temple, Grubb fell off his loft bed onto a hardwood floor in his off-campus apartment, leaving him paralyzed, according to an article on Temple's website.
After Grubb underwent surgeries and rehab, he returned to Temple and got his bachelor's degree. One of his doctors nudged him to then try law school. Grubb also graduated from Temple Law yesterday during a commencement ceremony featuring former U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter.