RUSTBURG, Va. (WFXR) — Hayden Grosvenor grew up traveling back and forth between his home in Rustburg and hospital treatments in Cincinnati.

At the age of three, he was diagnosed with Langerhans Cell Histiocytosis, a rare immune disorder that impacts his liver and his growth. By 2020, and the start of the pandemic, his liver was failing, and he received a transplant, contracting COVID during his recovery.

Still, he got better. He grew five inches, he put on weight, and things were starting to look up. Toward the end of 2021, Hayden began to notice his body couldn’t move the way it used to.

“It started I was being able to walk but I was wobbly,” he said. “I fell and after I fell stuff started to go numb.”

Hayden was diagnosed with Guillain-Barré syndrome, an autoimmune disorder that impacts the nerves. By the time he found out, he could barely raise his head.

“The therapists were determined to get me walking because they knew my goals,” he said.

The main goal was to walk at graduation.

“I had gotten so far in school, I wanted to make sure I walked,” he said.

However, he had to start with the basics. His team of physical therapists helped him use his hands and arms again by having him make sushi and bake cookies. He learned to walk using a Vector Gait and a walker. Then he went home to Rustburg in a wheelchair to continue his progress.

“After I stood a bunch of times I figured I should try to do a couple steps, after a few steps I thought I could do a bunch of others,” he said. He set a goal to walk around the pond at home where he liked to fish and kept at it until he could finish a lap. It took seven months between the start of his symptoms and the big day.

“[Liberty Christian Academy] did a practice graduation thing for us, and I was in a wheelchair at the time, but I told my mom I wanted to go without the wheelchair and see how I did and I was able to go up the steps and walk across stage, so at graduation day I knew I could do it,” he said.

Hayden’s parents Jene and Laura say they’ve learned a lot about family throughout the challenges.

“You realize there’s a lot of sick kids in the world and there’s a lot a lot worse than what your case is, and everything is a blessing and it’s all in how you look at it,” said Jene.

“Whatever gets thrown Hayden’s way he’s a tough cookie and he can get through it,” said Laura.

He did get through it and walked confidently across the stage at graduation.

“It felt good to accomplish my goal and cross the stage with my classmates,” he said.

Hayden is still working to build back his strength, but he’s already set his next goal: college.