Teen advocates snowboarding safety after accident - NBC12 - Richmond, VA News

Teen advocates snowboarding safety after accident

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HANOVER, VA (WWBT) -

A Hanover teen is on a mission to prevent others from experiencing the injuries he's battling after a serious snowboarding accident. Christian Chenault was a football player at Lee Davis High School. He just learned he won't be able to play again after suffering traumatic brain injuries.

Despite all of that, the 17 year old is in great spirits. He almost didn't make it. Christian has been a snowboarder for 10 years and never thought he needed a helmet until a serious accident changed his life.

"According to my MRI, I should not be here right now," he said.

The 17 year old says he is a living miracle. Due to the trauma, he doesn't remember the serious snowboarding accident he suffered a month ago but witnesses told him the story.

"I had gone to hit a jump and my board started to turn when I hit the jump and that kind of made me dive over the jump," he explained.

He landed face down, broke his wrist and is now battling traumatic brain injuries. He's just back from UVA Hospital.

"It was extremely difficult because there was no connection with Christian. So you stood there and watched the doctors as they tried to get him to respond even to pain. You watch your son being put into situations that would be extremely painful to you and I and there was no response," his mother Amy Dockman said.

He's made an amazing recovery.

"In several studies, less than 40 % of the individuals who sustained a brain injury while skiing or snowboarding were wearing a helmet," Anne McDonnell with the Brain Injury Association of Virginia sees cases like Christian's far too often.

"If you've got a helmet on your smart phone, you need to have a helmet on your head. We freak out if we drop our smart phone and it breaks but no one really understands the significance of a concussion and the life-long effects," she said.

It's a point not lost on the former Lee Davis football player.

The accident has changed his entire perspective.

"I didn't think I needed one. Ten years I had never fallen…It's just snow was my mentality. It's just snow, if you fall you'll get back up but no," he said.

Christian won't be able to return to school until May but he will do his school work from home. Even though he can't get back on the football field, the "A" student has already been accepted into college and says he plans to keep moving forward.

Christian's family is organizing a golf tournament to help fundraise for his medical costs. They're hoping it will become an annual event to eventually help spread awareness about traumatic brain injury and snowboarding safety.

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