BARTOW COUNTY, Ga. (December 1, 2023) – August 30, 2018, is not a day many people
vividly remember, but Cami Abernathy sure does.
“My son, Carter, was just three years old at the time,” said Abernathy, a first-grade teacher at
White Elementary School. “He was sick with a respiratory illness and then his left arm became
paralyzed. That night, we went to two emergency rooms and were told at both that he had
nursemaid’s elbow and that he was just being stubborn and not moving his arm.”
However, Abernathy’s intuition told her otherwise. She made an appointment with Carter’s
pediatrician the following morning, and that doctor sent them straight to Scottish Rite Hospital in
“Hearing that your child had a virus attack their spine, and they will never be the same, is
something no parent ever wants to hear,” said Abernathy.
Acute Flaccid Myelitis was the diagnosis. It is a rare nerve-related condition that doctors say is
similar to polio.
After seven days of intravenous steroids, two painful electromyography procedures, a nerve
transfer surgery, and years of robotic rehabilitation, Carter regained a lot of arm movement but
not a lot of strength.
Moving forward, Carter will need a 12-week round of intensive therapy at Scottish Rite once a
year. He started another 12-week journey just this week.
“Just because something terrible happens to your child, it does not mean they do not have an
amazing life ahead of them,” said Abernathy. “We believe that everything does happen for a
reason and while we do not know the reason for Carter’s AFM diagnosis, we do know that he is a
huge inspiration to us and will be to others as well. Carter loves life and makes the best out of
Carter will tell you with a resounding “no,” AFM has not slowed him down one bit.
As a third-grade student, he is active in the WES Garden Club and Chorus. He also plays
baseball and football for the Bartow County Parks and Recreation Department. He was the
starting nose guard on his 10U football team this year and has big plans to play under the lights
at Cass Middle School and Cass High School.
“I know I can do anything I try my hardest at,” said Carter. “I don’t mind making modifications
to participate in activities. In baseball, I had to teach myself how to catch with my right hand,
take the glove off by putting it under my left arm, and then throw the ball with my right hand. I
also had to learn how to bat left-handed so all my strength could come from my right arm.”
What Carter may lack in physical strength, he makes up for in inner strength, and for that, he
credits his extraordinary family, friends, teachers, and physical therapists.
“All of his friends know that Carter has a different left arm, and they are all so understanding and
caring and help him when he needs it,” said Abernathy. “Every Bartow County teacher Carter
has had has been amazing with him.”
Carter will tell you his number one supporter and cheerleader, though, is his brother, Copeland, a
fifth grader at WES.
“I want him and everyone else to know this,” said Carter. “Never give up on anything you want
to do. Anything you set your mind to, you can achieve it!”