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This article appeared in a March 2016 issue of the student newsletter.
By Alejandra Miranda North Lake News-Register Contributing Writer
It was the beginning of Vicente Sanchez’ summer vacation. The year was 2010, and he had just started working with his family fixing apartments.
He was an active 15-year-old and dreamed of finding the perfect job to fully support his mother and family members in Mexico.
On June 20, 2010, Sanchez and his family took some time off from work to go on a camping trip to Turner Falls Park in Davis, Okla., to celebrate the Father’s Day weekend. Sanchez had only one thing on his mind — to have fun.
“We had just gotten there, we got all the tents ready, cleared out a space, we had fun for a little bit, five hours passed and we were getting ready to eat dinner,” remembered Sanchez, a North Lake College student. “I was standing on the side of the river trying to push an inflatable boat to my cousin, Julie. I tried pushing it as far away from me as possible so I could try to take a dive onto it.”
What seemed to be a fun idea took a dangerous turn in a matter of seconds. “I took a dive into the floating boat and hit a rock inside the river and that’s when it all started.”
Sanchez’s head hit a rock at the bottom of the river and he had to be rushed by helicopter to a nearby hospital in Oklahoma City, where he was diagnosed with a C-5 spinal cord injury.
A family camping trip had turned into a mother’s worst nightmare. Sanchez’s mother, Dolores Hernandez, remembers that day well.
“I arrived 20 minutes later to the hospital and the doctors wouldn’t let me into his room until I answered a bunch of questions, but all I wanted to do was see my son,” she said.
“When I entered his room, he was laying on a bed and with tears running down his face. He told me that the doctors had said that he wasn’t able to ever walk again. I couldn’t believe it since I had just seen him walk the day before.”
C-5 spinal cord injuries can result in total loss of movement and sensation under the point of injury and require intense rehabilitation.
Sanchez spent 15 days in intensive care and later was transported to Our Children’s House at Baylor in Oklahoma City where he stayed two months in rehabilitation.
Luckily, Sanchez was not alone in his fight. His mother Dolores has been with him every moment. She has motivated her son to keep on going, despite the odds. He says that he owes everything to her. When doctors said he would never walk again, she didn’t give up.
Both Dolores and Vicente knew he needed to continue with his education. After being home-schooled for a year, Sanchez returned to public school and was able to earn the necessary credits to graduate a year early from Nimitz High School, class of 2013.
After graduation, Sanchez realized he wanted to help his family’s struggles in America and decided to attend North Lake College to assure a better future for himself and his mother. He is currently taking two classes at NLC and is still undecided on what path he wants to take, but he knows he has to keep on going, with hopes to become an immigration lawyer one day.
Aside from college life, he spends his time playing video games at home. Sanchez describes himself as a friendly person who is not shy to answer questions or talk about his life.
Unfortunately, he doesn’t have many friends in college and occasionally suffers from depression, but constantly tells himself, “I have to try to live to see the next morning.”
Sanchez requires 24-hour-care. Therefore, Dolores spends all of her time taking care of him. She drives him to NLC and waits for him after every class. Once classes are over, she helps him with different therapy exercises. Dolores spends many hours massaging his arms and hands with the hope that her son will gain full mobility and feeling in his arms. It is something she has done for him since he came home from the hospital. She believes that her massages and prayers have helped him heal to the point that he can attend school.
Because Dolores is Vicente’s caretaker, she isn’t able to work, which leaves them with great financial struggles. Thankfully, there are great programs like the Blazer Student Store, which has helped them obtain much-needed items, such as food and clothing.
Dolores wants to encourage parents to always be by their children’s side and to never give up on them. She said she has seen many kids suffer similar injuries and parents don’t care for them.
“I will never give up and see him die on a chair,” she said.