Two years ago, Matt Bellina went down a 40-foot-tall waterslide head first, hit the end of the slide, and shattered two vertabrae in his neck. Paralyzed from the neck down, the father of one had no guarantee he’d ever walk again, let alone indulge in his passion, surfing.
Now, the 40-year-old is hitting the waves again, thanks to the support and creativity of his friends, Fox 5 reported.
Bellima rode a 4-foot-wide sailboard as six of his friends towed him out into the surf. He wiped out on his first wave, but on the third wave, he briefly separated from his friends and was surfing again.
"It really felt good! I could feel myself balance and sit up,” Bellima told Fox 5.
After Bellima’s accident, friends recalled his resilience. The Cocoa Beach, Florida, man underwent two years of intense physical therapy and is wheelchair bound, but he has regained use of his arms and torso.
"I've never seen anyone go through such a tragedy, and laugh and smile and be in such a good attitude all the time," Tony Sasso, who has known Bellima for 15 years, told the news channel.
Bellima’s friends set up a GoFundMe page to help him cover the cost of physical therapy.
Now, Bellima is hoping to walk again, a challenge he said his faith, friends and the power of the ocean will help him overcome.
"And I believe that, so I'm going to,” he told Fox 5. “It's not a question, it's a matter of when."