HUDSONVILLE, Mich. (WOOD) — When administrators at Hudsonville High School were tasked with finding a student who embodied what it meant to be an Eagle, they needed look no further than the smile of 10th grader Coleton Butterworth.

Coleton was born with spina bifida and uses a wheelchair to navigate the classrooms and hallways. He’s a kid with grit whose positive attitude is contagious. 

At the end of his freshman year, Coleton got sick. He was dangerously ill with sepsis. He spent over 12 weeks in the hospital and was on the verge of not being able to finish his first year of high school.

But he turned to that spirit, which typically raises the hopes of others, to lift himself up, too.

Coleton Butterworth
A file photo of Coleton Butterworth in the hospital.

He decided to do the work in his hospital bed. After the first week, he made a commitment: Get as much work done as early as possible and take the rest of the day to concentrate on his health.

“The first week I was in the hospital I was like, ‘I’ve got to do all this work. When am I going to get it done?’” Coleton said. “I don’t want to do it every day, but then I thought, ‘If I really want to get to sophomore year, I’ve got to do it.’”

And he did do it. Now a sophomore, he has even more to concentrate on. At least once an hour, he needs to lay on a mat during class to prevent any future run-ins with sepsis. 

But spending all that time in the hospital and away from the classroom, using online course to keep up, gave Coleton an idea for the future. He hopes to one day work in the medical field and help kids who fall victim to circumstance in the same way his medical providers helped him.