Zack Ackerman Is back
January 2, 2019
Zach Ackerman came back for the music.
Ackerman, who suffered a debilitating brain injury as a result of complications from surgery in the summer of 2017, played trumpet in the Niwot High School Band. He also played football at NHS, and was active in scouting before his injury.
As a sophomore, Ackerman also joined the Niwot Community Semi-Marching Free Grange Band, playing trumpet for several community events. As a result of that experience, he joined the brass section of the Community Band as part of a brass quintet, performing Christmas Carols with the group on Christmas Eve in 2016 at the Niwot United Methodist Church.
Then came a brain condition in the summer of 2017 which caused him to suffer seizures and led to an operation at the UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles. Complications from the surgery caused a stroke and led doctors to believe Ackerman could not survive, and word spread quickly among the many friends of the popular student.
But the outpouring of grief, including flowers and a makeshift shrine at the high school sign along Niwot Road, turned into a message of prayers, hope and support when Ackerman did not die, and instead began a long road toward recovery.
Since the injury, Ackerman has spent many days in rehab and is has been back home for over a year. Though he uses a wheelchair to get around, and his vision is limited by difficulty raising his eyelids, he hasn’t lost his sense of humor and his love for life.
Last spring he was able to come to a Niwot High School baseball game where his brother Cooper Ackerman was playing. Players and coaches made a point of stopping to see Ackerman and welcome him back. He also attended a football game, enjoyed seeing his principal and other teachers, and was happy to hear that his senior buddies on the team won their Homecoming game.
On Christmas Eve this year he joined his family at Niwot United Methodist Church, specifically, as his father Tim said, “to listen to the music.” The brass quintet from the Community Band was back in action at the service. Fellow trumpet players Paul Schafer and Katie Warren, as well as musicians Rick Clark, Biff Warren, Mike Weiss and Wally Moffett all had a chance for a quick visit with Ackerman after the service.
“It warmed my heart to see Zach,” Biff Warren said, “and to see him smile. He’s an inspiration to all of us.”
“It was nice to have Zach be able to hear the sounds of the band again,” Tim and Lisa Ackerman said in an email. “It’s amazing that two years ago he was there playing. Zach has always been such a strong healthy man, and we’re thankful he remains healthy and building strength. He now goes to therapies in Loveland and works on his coordination and communication. As his stroke primarily affected the ‘communication’ part of his brain, it’s a constant battle for his smart brain to try to make his body do what he wants. He keeps a great attitude and is always trying to improve.”