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Martina McBride Helps Paralyzed Music Student Walk Again

Rick Diamond, Getty Images

Martina McBride and her husband helped to come to the rescue after one of their music students was paralyzed in a devastating accident.

Twenty-four-year-old David Francisco was a student at Blackbird Academy music school in Nashville when he was struck by a car while riding his bicycle. The accident left Francisco with a broken back, damaged spinal cord and a shredded forearm.

The accident happened just a mile away from the school, which McBride’s husband, John McBride, owns and operates, helping to train a new generation of audio engineers and producers. John and Martina McBride own Blackbird Studio, one of the most respected recording facilities in the country, which draws acts from all genres to Nashville to record. Francisco began classes in April of 2016, and the crippling accident took place just three weeks later.

McBride stayed with his student until his parents arrived from Knoxville.

“He’s laying there in misery,” McBride tells Nashville’s Tennessean newspaper. “He was in and out of it. A huge gash on his left arm, and they sewed up while I was standing there. Oh God … Man, it was so emotional. You relate as a parent.”

McBride vowed to Francisco’s parents that he and his wife would “be with you all the way through this,” and they made good on that promise by first refunding the family’s deposit, then helping to organize some online fundraising efforts that, along with contributions from MusiCares, raised enough money for Francisco to undergo treatment at the Shephard Center, a rehab center for spinal cord and brain injuries in Atlanta.

He underwent a mix of physical and emotional therapy, with doctors encouraging him to focus his thoughts on moving his legs to help rebuild the nerve passageways between his brain and his limbs.

“For a long time, I’d be sitting in bed, telling my legs, ‘Move!’ It was freaky. It was scary,” Francisco admits. Doctors first believed that Francisco would remain completely paralyzed, but as months went on, he began to regain some movement little by little. He learned to use a wheelchair and drive a car with hand controls, and after eight months Francisco moved back to Nashville with the ability to stand and walk with crutches. He returned to school in January, and the McBrides waived his tuition. He is set to graduate the six-month program on Friday (June 30), and the Tennessean reports that he may be able to walk without assistance at his graduation.

Francisco has an impressive resume now, having performed with Martina McBride and Steven Curtis Chapman. He has also met Katy Perry and Jason Mraz during his studies, and he is planning to move with his girlfriend to Los Angeles after graduation. He is hopeful that his progress will continue.

“I do believe in God,” Francisco tells the Tennessean. “Taking the broken thing that happened and it is being redeemed in so many ways.

“That has been really powerful for me.”

See Pictures From Martina McBride’s New York City Show

Martina McBride: Still Bold, Still Reckless

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Next: Read ToC's Martina McBride Cover Story

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