BUFFALO, NY – It was a triumphant homecoming for a town of Derby teenager on Friday who had been paralyzed in a freak accident, but who has made an astonishing recovery since.
Friends and family of Andrew Mangan gathered to surprise him when his flight arrive late in the afternoon at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport.
The welcome party included several of his teammates from the rowing crew at Canisius High School where Mangan is a junior.
On December 10, while on a walk with his mother, Mangan, 16, dove into what he thought was a fluffy snow bank.
Striking his head on a hard object beneath, he fractured his C-5 vertebrae resulting in paralysis from the chest down.
Three days before Christmas, after a ten day stay at ECMC where he underwent two surgeries, Mangan flew by medi-jet to Craig Hospital outside of Denver, which specializes in rehabilitation from spinal cord injuries.
There, he slowly began to overcome the significant sensory and motor loss he experienced as a result of his accident.
It started with the twitch of a knee... then came the arms...and the hands.
Within three weeks his neck brace was off and he began using a wheel chair… and tackle an electronic-stimulation bike with electrodes attached to his legs, which when stimulated, fire muscles and allow him to pedal.
Three of his brothers gave up their busy lives to move out to Colorado for those first three weeks, to help Andrew keep working on his physical therapy and keep up with his schooling.
He was also looked in on by visitors and faculty from Regis High School, a fellow Jesuit school located in Denver, who offered tutoring and encouragement.
On Thursday, Mangan – with the use of crutches- was able to walk out of the hospital he came to, unable to move 70 days before.
There's an old saying that adversity doesn't build character, it reveals it.
There’s another which has guided Andrew in his recovery
Ad majorem Dei gloriam.
The Latin motto of the Jesuits.
"For the greater glory of God".