A Palm Beach Central High School cheerleader serves as a beacon of hope on the sideline.
Layla Rogan was nearly killed in an ATV crash in Florida in May 2022. After an incredible recovery, she's now giving back to those who helped save her.
For her 17th birthday Friday, Rogan was on a mission to feed the firefighters at every Palm Beach County Fire Rescue station. And knowing her spirit, "Layla Strong," they knew she could do it.
You'd never know that a little more than a year ago, Rogan, a sassy and spunky Palm Beach Central High School cheerleader, wasn't expected to survive a horrific ATV crash, let alone cheer again.
"When we got to the hospital, it felt like a race of what was going to take her life first," said Ali Rogan, Layla's mom. "If she beats one of these, there are three other serious injuries on deck behind it ready to get her."
But they didn't. And on her 17th birthday Friday, Rogan and her family paid it forward. They organized a meal train to deliver food to every Palm Beach County Fire Rescue location, all 52 of them.
"I just thought, go big or go home," Rogan said. "So I was like, let's do all the stations. Because even though they weren't there on my call, they still, every day, they save other people. And I wanted to give back to them."
"We needed a miracle, and it started with these guys," Ali Rogan said.
The Rogan family has formed a close bond with Palm Beach County Fire Rescue, especially emergency medical services Capt. Troy Dichard, who responded to Rogan's call.
"That's my best friend. He saved me," Rogan said.
"It's one of the top five of my career," Dichard said. "Validates everything that we do. And it's a good memory of a call that we have. The progress that she's shown, I've not seen anything like it."
Across all corners of Palm Beach County on Friday, firefighters were treated to lunch in Rogan's honor, coming from her favorite teacher and even complete strangers.
"I thought it was a great way to say, we see you, we appreciate you, we love you. Because they don't get that side," Ali Rogan said.
People teaming up to celebrate the heroes that walk among us.
"I'm just very grateful," Layla Rogan said. "They didn't give up on me and worked on me. I was pretty critical. They could have just let me go, but they didn't."
Rogan is here, a bright light cheering for all to see.
"It's just such a good reminder of the good. And there is good. And we were all a part of that," Ali Rogan said.
"The next patient I have like Layla, I'm going to be thinking in the back of my head, this girl's got a shot," Dichard said.
Rogan's crash happened in May 2022. She was driving an ATV and hit a parked car. Her injuries included at least nine brain bleeds, according to her mom.
"She had what's called brain sheering where you hit something so hard it tears the axons in your brain. Ahe had the most severe case of that," Ali Rogan said, along with liver lacerations, a broken jaw, and internal bleeding.
Layla spent three weeks in the ICU at St. Mary's Medical Center before being flown to the Shepard Center in Atlanta, which specializes in traumatic brain injuries.
She was able to return home in time to start her sophomore year of high school just two weeks late in 2022.
After her accident, Rogan said she has a new plan for her future. She wants to go to school for physical therapy so she can help others the way she was helped in her miraculous recovery.
This story was originally published by Stephanie Susskind at Scripps News West Palm Beach.
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