The Will to Walk Again: Daniel Olivares

Like any other teenager, Daniel Olivares has a dream.

His love for art and drawing has shined since he was young, a talent his mother wants him to pursue.

"He really likes to draw, said his mother, Esmeralda Alegria. He loves art, he can draw beautifully. I want him to be able to study art so he can pursue this dream."

But on the day of his high school graduation, just hours before walking the stage, he thought his dream was nearly destroyed .

"My friend started playing with the wheel, recalled Daniel, and we crashed."

Daniel and four of his friends were driving in this vehicle when the driver lost control, flipping over on a San Benito road last May.

None of the teens were wearing seatbelts.

Daniel and another friend were ejected from the car, landing yards away from the scene of the accident.

The 18-year-old remembers waking up confused, and feeling a warm sensation all over his body.

"One of my homeboys was next to me trying to keep me awake, said Daniel. I was on the floor, and I saw the truck upside down."

Daniel's best friend, Christian Garcia, was in the stands at San Benito High School waiting for the graduation ceremony to start, when he received a chilling phone call that changed everything.

"I was at the stadium for the graduation and I got a call letting me know that they flipped over, said Garcia. I was just like 'I TMve got to go!' I was trying to find a ride, but I never got a ride over there."

Not only did the accident prevent Daniel from walking the stage that night, his injuries threatened to never let him walk again.

A spinal injury paralyzed the teen from the waist down.

Dr. Dorothy Nesmith with Valley Baptist Medical Center treated Daniel from day one, and says it's a miracle that the teen even made it out alive.

"He had no sensation below his knees and he had no muscle strength, said Dr. Nesmith. He had no strength in his hip flexors, at his knee, his knee extensors, or at the ankle. He had no muscle strength in

"I felt depressed because I couldn't do the stuff I would always do, said Daniel. I couldn TMt even get up and walk anywhere I wanted to."

"I felt horrible, said Daniel TMs mother, Esmeralda. To see him and to think that he wasn't going to walk again was so hard. But the doctor gave us hope, saying it was possible that in time my son could walk again."

Not only was Daniel in a bad situation physically, his family had another problem.

Esmeralda Alegria's home was in terrible condition, and was not suitable enough to accommodate her handicapped son.

The home was dark, had no running water, and even the floors were caving in, rotting away with every step.

The hospital would not release Daniel until his mother found another place for him to stay.

Action 4 News visited Daniel in the hospital after his accident, and asked the teen how the community could help him.

"Our house needs light and water, said Daniel back in May. That would make me feel better so I could go home. I just want to go home."

Action 4 TMs Hannah Linn shared Daniel's story and viewers flooded our newsroom with calls and Facebook messages wanting to know how they could help.

His story touched one viewer so much that she even nominated the teen for a Pay it 4ward, giving his family $400 to help bring Daniel home.

"I'm really surprised, Daniel said after the Pay it 4ward visit. I never thought this was going to happen. It makes me feel happy and real thankful to them for helping me so I could go back home."

And today, Daniel lives in hope and victory.

He attends therapy three times a week, and can now walk with a walker, which was something that many feared would never happen again.

The family was also able to move into another home in San Benito with plenty of space, running water, electricity, and wheelchair access.

It is still a struggle for Alegria to keep up with rent, bills, and other medical expenses for her son.

But overall, the family has accepted this new challenge in their lives, and doctors say he is nothing short of a miracle.

"I think he is very lucky, said Dr. Nesmith. And he is very lucky that his injury was at the level it was at."

The accident may have come at a tremendous cost, but friends and family have never left Daniel TMs side.

"You have to move on, said Daniel. When you're alone, you feel depressed. It's always better to have a homeboy or one of your family members with you."

"I just thank everyone that has supported my family during these four months after my son's accident, said Alegria. And I just want to thank Channel 4 so much for using what they could do to help my family."