Paralyzed teen takes swimming lessons at JMH
MIAMI (WSVN) -- A therapist is teaching a teen left paralyzed after he was struck by a bullet the skills he needs to get back in the water and swim.
Aaron Willis was in a hospital bed with his father by his side last December. The teen's spinal cord was severed after a stray bullet stuck him while he was riding his bike. It paralyzed him from the waist down.
For the past five months, Willis has been adapting to life without the use of his legs. Community members have chipped in to help him get around at home.
Therapists have challenged him to stay active. The teen is accepting the latest challenge: swimming lessons offered as part of Jackson Memorial Hospital's Aquatic Rehab Program.
He hit the pool on Thursday for the second time. "At first, I didn't think I could do nothing but now I know I can actually do stuff without people helping me," said Willis.
Recreation therapist Kathy Herring, a JMH employee, said swimming is a great way for Willis and other paraplegics to stay active. "This is a great way to work on his cardio, to work on his endurance," said Herring. "Once he gets the techniques down, hopefully we can start swimming laps just like we do on the swim team."
"My legs feel lighter. I feel like I can move them like I used to," said Willis.
It will take some practice, but Willis' instructor has high hopes for a young man who has refused to let his injury keep him from living an active life. "Hopefully, we can get them to-- who knows-- we can get him to compete in the Paralympics as a swimmer," said Herring.
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