CBS2 Spoke To Vinny Pinello 3 Years Ago When His Wheelchair Was Destroyed

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A Long Island teen had his wheelchair stolen along with his independence, but three years later the young man said the theft is the best thing that ever happened to him.

Vinny Pinello is a Rosyln High School graduate living with cerebral palsy since birth. Since getting out of a wheelchair, and taking real steps with a walker for the first time, Pinello says life is grand.

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“It’s a really good thing in my life, by the miracle of god I am able to walk,” he told CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan.

It was a heartless crime his parents Carmela and Martino said, but it took their son on an incredible journey.

CBS2 was on the scene three years ago when police charged three teenage neighbors from Flower Hill with stealing Vinny’s electric wheelchair, taking it on a joyride, and trashing it.

“It wasn’t a prank it was a hate crime. You took away my independence,” Vinny said at the time.

The crime inspired Vinny. While waiting two full months for a new custom built wheelchair, he sought advice from his doctor at NYU Langone.

Vinny was told he qualified as a candidate for intrathecal baclofen therapy.

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A pump was surgically implanted to release a drug into Vinny’s spine. There was a chance it could control his severe spasticity.

“They didn’t promise anything. They didn’t guarantee he’s going to walk or maneuver, nothing,” Carmela said.

Vinny’s family said life has changed for them all. With overwhelming blessings coming from a hurtful and heartless crime.

“I don’t want to depend on the wheelchair all of the time,” he said.

It takes a village, and there are volunteers helping Vinny with daily physical activity.

Every three months the protein pump medication is infused and doctors said Vinny could even get better.

Intrathecal therapy is being used for some patients with cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, and other spinal injuries.

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