Community comes together for paralyzed Carnation vet

CARNATION, Wash. -- Todd Wingerson of Carnation gets his strength these days from hope.

"(Doctors) are saying I will never walk and they're probably right, but there's miracles. Things happen," said Wingerson.

On Memorial Day weekend, Wingerson slipped trying to build a swimming pool in the backyard of his Carnation home.

"I was face down in the water yelling, 'I can't move my arms,' and that's all I remember," recalled Wingerson, who hit his head when he fell.

Wingerson became paralyzed from the neck down, but in just weeks he's making remarkable progress.

"I'm not supposed to have a whole lot of shoulder movement, but I've gained shoulder movement," said Winger, who also has movement in his wrists and hands but can't move his fingers.

"My grasp right now is going to be, I'll pinch my hands and I'll lift up and that will be my movement right now, so I feel like an ice chest - basically from my elbows down through I can't feel," he said.

Wingerson, a NAVY Veteran and construction worker, is also a husband and father of two teens - it's what makes it so hard dealing with the injury.

"Being removed from my family, being here. Not being around my kids," he said. "Watching the kids come and see me and telling me about their day and not being around it."

As Wingerson recovers at the Veterans Affairs hospital, the Carnation community is stepping up to support him and his family.

"The thing that's amazing is their attitude - it's just been phenomenal," said Kim Lisk, who organized Carnation's 4th of July festivities.

Volunteers are collecting donations and selling wristbands at the event. "I thought it was a great way for our community to be able to pitch in and help support what the family is going through," said Lisk.

Wingerson and his family are overwhelmed with all the support from the community, family and friends.

"It is so touching. I think I've just been on the go so much that I really haven't had time to really sit down and take it all in," said Wingerson's wife Kristin.

Day-by-day Wingerson's needs are changing, but the family knows improvements will need to be made to their home before he can leave the hospital. He could be released in at least three weeks but it depends on his recovery.

"I used to be the big, strong tough guy. Now, I'm confined to a chair and trying to figure out what I'm going to do with my life after this," said Wingerson.

If you'd like to make a donation to the Wingerson family you can do it through our KOMO Problem Solvers page.