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On July 14, 2011, 19-year-old Nick Malafronte suffered spinal cord injuries during a diving accident. Doctors told him he’d never be able to use his hands nor walk again.

All of this because Nick dove into the water and hit his head on the bottom of the pool where he worked as a lifeguard. The impact shattered his C4, or fourth cervical vertebra, broke his fifth cervical vertebra, and pierced his spinal cord. Doctors determined after an eight-hour surgery that he may be permanently paralyzed.

Unshaken by what he was told, Nick reportedly told doctors, “I will walk again.”

Nearly a year after the accident, Nick hasn’t given up hope.

Reports say that Nick attends rehabilitation frequently and that his progress has improved significantly. “His endurance, range of motion and the strength of his core muscles have all improved,” said Enterprise News.

So far, he’s able to push elevator buttons and operate his wheelchair, but his ultimate goal is to walk again.

Whether you’re a wannabe-Olympian or an amateur, always remember that one mistake can change your life forever. So before you spring from that board, be sure to keep these diving tips in mind:

  • Never dive in shallow pools
  • Dive into a new pool feet-first
  • Pay attention to warnings and pool instructions
  • Do not dive while drunk
  • Be sure the diving board is stable
  • Know appropriate diving methods
  • Leave the fancy stuff to the professionals

My deepest sympathies to Nick and his family. I hope he meets his goal.

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