By Kathy Walsh

DENVER (CBS4)– A teenage musician, paralyzed by a rare illness, is playing music once again. And she is donating $1,500 to Craig Rehabilitation Hospital to thank the staff for inspiring her and to help others recover with music.

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“It’s been so instrumental in my recovery,” said Gracie Fisher at a check presentation at Craig Tuesday.

The play on words explained her generous donation to Craig. It was at the hospital, Fisher got her music back.

Gracie Fisher at the presentation at Craig Hospital (credit: CBS)

Gracie Fisher at the presentation at Craig Hospital (credit: CBS)

“Music’s always been a part of my life,” 18-year-old Fisher told CBS4 Health Specialist Kathy Walsh.

In 2014, Fisher was playing three instruments and planning to go to Berklee College of Music in Boston. But at her 17th birthday party, she felt sick.

“I began to feel a tingling in my hands and a pain in my neck. Within 5 minutes, I couldn’t walk,” said Fisher.

She had acute flaccid myelitis (AFM), a rare polio-like illness. Paralyzed from the neck down, her music stopped.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

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“I think it was hard accepting that I might not be able to use my hands,” said Fisher.

But then she came to Craig, Colorado’s world-renowned rehabilitation hospital. She worked with Music Therapist Sarah Thompson.

“Her attitude is the most impressive thing,” said Thompson.

Fisher learned to play piano with a mouth stick. She embraced music, once again.

“Getting back to something that she loves and just doing it a little differently than she did it before,” said Thompson.

Gracie Fisher with Music Therapist Sarah Thompson.(credit: CBS)

Gracie Fisher with Music Therapist Sarah Thompson.(credit: CBS)

The check presented to Craig is to expand music therapy at the hospital. The money comes from the foundation Fisher started, the Grace Fisher Foundation.

Her first donation was $5,000 from the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Instead of a meeting a pop star or taking a trip, that was Fisher’s wish. Now, she is “instrumental” in improving the lives of others.

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Kathy Walsh is CBS4’s Weekend Anchor and Health Specialist. She has been with CBS4 for more than 30 years. She is always open to story ideas. Follow Kathy on Twitter @WalshCBS4.