TEEN
10/15/2012 04:51 pm ET

Alexis Hanford, Teen Who Battled Flesh-Eating Bacteria, Named Homecoming Princess (VIDEO)

Alexis Hanford may not be able to walk, but that didn't stop her from dancing the night away at homecoming. The Bethesda, Maryland teen became wheelchair-bound two months ago while battling a rare flesh-eating bacteria, and now, she's on the road to recovery and refusing to let the infection keep her from having fun. She was even named her school's homecoming princess, the Washington Post reports.

Over the summer, the Walt Whitman High School student was vacationing near Ukiah, California when she cut her leg on a tree and fell off of a rope swing into water, contracting an uncommon strain of flesh-eating bacteria. Hanford underwent 17 surgeries to the wound on her leg and is currently in a wheelchair as she learns to walk again, according to Fox News.

After celebrating her sixteenth birthday in the hospital, the varsity athlete was released in time for last Friday's homecoming rally. There, the student body surprised Hanford by crowning her homecoming princess.

"It was amazing to be crowned and I'm guessing probably since I've been away for so long they wanted me to know that I'm still included in the school, " Hanford told ABC News. "I can't even explain how much that means to me."

Watch the video above and head over to ABC News to read the full story.

Hanford isn't the only young women to make headlines over the summer for surviving an encounter with a rare type of flesh-eating bacteria. University of West Georgia graduate student Aimee Copeland, 24, contracted an infection that consumed parts of both of her legs and arms after she fell from a zip line. Aimee survived and recently appeared on Katie Couric's talk show, "Katie," to discuss her unbelievable recovery.

Both young women inspired others with their ability to remain optimistic in the face of overwhelming challenges. For Hanford, the experience changed her outlook on life and helped her learn to be grateful.

“Even though it can be frustrating to have to deal with this, there are always people who are worse off. I saw them in the hospital and in rehab," she told the Washington Post. "What we consider normal -- going to college, getting a job, getting married -- isn’t going to happen for those people. . . . It just makes you look at life differently.”

Are you inspired by Alexis' story? Share your thoughts in the comments below or tweet @HuffPostTeen.

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