Paralyzed freshman inspires community to take the next step

By Bianca Humbarger

ONE MORE STEP are the words that come to mind when thinking of Noah Barbknecht, but also courage, strength, and survival are the others. Freshman Noah Barbknecht  attends Northrop, plays football and loves hunting.

Noah 73

Noah takes a break after a strong win against South Side earlier in the school year. The football team will wear a sticker on their helmets in honor of Noah during next season.

On the night of December 24, 2012, Noah was involved in a skiing accident while on vacation in Mt. Snow, Vermont. What was supposed to be a time of family and fun, turned into a shock and tragedy.

“Disbelief and denial, that it was anything that was going to really be permanent,” said his mother, Sandi Barbknecht.

That night Noah suffered injuries that now may not be repairable. That night he suffered multiple facial fractures, a broken neck, a few broken ribs, double collapsed lung, and a spinal fracture at the T8 vertebrate that has left him paralyzed from the breast bone down.

Noah has adopted the motto ONE MORE STEP to keep focused on his recovery. Noah’s strength has been described as “inspirational.”

“It helps ease our pain knowing that Noah has become other people’s hero,” said Sandi Barbknecht.

Noah has had immense support throughout this entire journey. Even though his friends can’t be there with him, many of them still support him on his journey while they are here in Fort Wayne.

“It’s inspirational how determined he is to get back to football and achieve straight A’s. He was so nice to everyone even if they were rude to him. I just really think he’s an inspiration,” said Kendra Yarin, freshman.

His mother and father, Jason Barbknecht, were right by his side the entire time he was in Albany, New York at Albany Medical Center. Now that Noah is in Atlanta at the Shepherd Center, his dad is still with him. There are many treatments Noah now has to go through because of his accident.

Despite all the trauma Noah has gone through and continues to go through, his spirit has remained high and strengthens other people.

“The community support, especially from total strangers, is amazing! It is like Noah’s journey has become everyone’s journey,” said Sandi Barbknecht.

Right now, Noah is getting X-rayed regularly along with frequent trips to the MRI machine to monitor his lungs. There are also issues with digestion and Noah’s ability to keep down food. There is also a danger of Noah catching a fever or a ruptured appendix, both of which could be deadly because of the lack of feeling in parts of his body.

“Having Noah tell his dad ‘It’s going to be alright Dad’, when his Dad asked him why wasn’t he expressing anger or fear, shows us the kind of courage and selflessness he possesses,” said Sandi Barbknecht.

Noah’s parents aren’t the only ones that are supporting him now though. Many people everywhere have heard about Noah’s story and are inspired!

Noah’s heart remains big.

“He’s a gentle giant, we’ve always said that about Noah.” said Jason Barbknecht.

People have come to Noah’s parents and told them over and over how amazing Noah’s story is, and how it has changed their life.

“He wanted to be a soldier and to me, he is such an amazing example of a fighter.” said Mackenzie Phillips, freshman.

On February 9 a silent auction benefit will be held for Noah and his family. This event will take place at Ceruti’s Summit Park at 7:00 p.m and last until 10:00 p.m. The cost of each ticket is $30, and anyone 12 years and older may attend this event. You can pre-register, buy tickets and make donations online at

“He is going to have the biggest heart and spirit of whatever comes of this,” said Principal Barb Alhersmeyer.


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  1. St. Francis donates proceeds to Prayers-for-Noah | What's Bruin? - May 20, 2013

    […] Athletic Director Mike McCaffrey. The check will go to cover Noah’s recovery from his spinal injury over Christmas […]

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