OCEAN GROVE, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – A Monmouth County lifeguard who was paralyzed in the water is fighting to get back his swimming legs with the support of people from around the country.
His inspiring battle to walk again has people calling the teenager “Samvincible,” reports CBS2’s Meg Baker.
Sam Jarmer almost has complete control of his upper body after a month of rehab at the Children’s Specialized Hospital in New Brunswick.
He suffered a spinal cord injury in July. The 16-year-old is a lifeguard in Ocean Grove when on duty.
“I dove over a wave and the wave clipped my feet sent me diving down at a steeper angle and I hit a sand bar,” said Sam Jarmer.
“He’s grown up in that ocean, he knows that ocean, so it was just a freak accident,” said mother Jessica Jarmer.
He was saved by his fellow lifeguard.
“The outpouring of support, and it continues the support, it’s absolutely overwhelming,” said Jessica.
A family friend set up an Instagram account for the teen called SAMvincible. He’s received words of encouragement from all over, including the New York Rangers’ Mika Zibanejad and the New York Mets’ Mickey Callaway.
“(It) keeps me motivated,” said Sam.
He’s also had special visitors including New York Rangers’ Stanley Cup champion Mike Richter and BMX rider Scotty Cranmer.
Cranmer who suffered a spinal cord injury and learned how to walk again.
“If he can do it, I can do it,” said Sam.
His doctor says this positive energy helps him power through physical therapy.
“It gives him spirit, hope and encouragement,” said Dr. Michele Fantasia of the Children’s Specialized Hospital.
The family says through this harrowing experience, they have been reminded of their many blessings.
Sam’s doctor says recovery from spinal cord injuries can take months or even years, but so far Sam is ahead of schedule.