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SOAR scholarship: Tipton student bounces back after breaking neck in family pond

Eighteen-year-old Cody Koch of Tipton is one of three high school seniors receiving a $5,000 SOAR scholarship from The Sedona Group and WQAD News 8 this year.

TIPTON, Iowa — A Tipton student is among one of three high school seniors who are receiving a $5,000 SOAR scholarship from The Sedona Group and WQAD News 8 this year.

Cody Koch, 18, says he's very blessed after suffering an injury during his high school career.

He broke his neck after diving into his parent's pond in July 2020. He was 16-years-old and a sophomore at the time of the accident. 

"I thought it was just going to be in and out, but totally different story," Cody said.

"The world just kind of changed at that moment," said Sheila Koch, Cody's mother.

He was first taken to Mercy Iowa City before being transported to the University of Iowa Stead Family Children's Hospital.

"I just remember laying in the hospital bed on my back forever it seemed like," Cody said.

Doctors gave Cody the options of wearing a neck brace called a "halo" or go through surgery for his treatment.

"He actually is the one who determined his fate on that day," Sheila said.

Cody chose the halo. Doctors told Cody that the halo was not guaranteed to work, and the surgery would have ended his career playing football.

"Initially, we didn't think it was anything too serious," said Tory Koch, Cody's father.

"He's the type of kid that would probably want to get back out on the field maybe before he was cleared," said Cody's football coach Taul Noard.

Cody spent about a year in recovery, and off the field, he went to school online during his time in the halo. He wore the halo around four months and he went through six months of physical therapy. 

"He's always had the motivation, where whenever he starts something, he always finishes it," Sheila said. "So, that day in the hospital, whenever the accident happened, I still get emotional."

Cody is an honor roll student in all four years of high school. He has also worked more than 100 hours of community service.

"On behalf of The Sedona Group, we want to award you the $5,000 scholarship award for your education," said Phil Cunningham with The Sedona Group. 

"Thank you," Cody said.

The scholarship is not the only thing he is celebrating.

"Probably the biggest moment for me was just to see him walk on that football field this fall," said Cody's high school principal, Spence Evans.

Cody wants to become a medical sales representative. He's been accepted to the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater where he will play for one of the top Division III football programs in the country.

Cody has been involved in volunteering at youth sports, helping the elderly with yard work and assisting a disabled ex-Marine with cleaning and working with students with special needs. He recently made it to state competitions in track and field for shot put.

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