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Man learns to walk again thanks to donation from stranger

After more than eight years confined to a wheelchair, a local man's prayers are finally getting answered.TV5 f...

Posted: Mar 16, 2018 6:24 PM
Updated: Mar 16, 2018 6:24 PM

After more than eight years confined to a wheelchair, a local man's prayers are finally getting answered.

TV5 first introduced you to Corey Zielenski in January when we told you about his wish to be able to walk again with the help of a pair of bionic legs.

Those legs came with a hefty price tag though; one Zielenski couldn't afford.

Thanks to a generous act of kindness, his wish came true on March 15.

Step by step, Zielenski walked into his new life.

"Walking my daughter down the aisle. I can do that," he said. "When you're told that you're not going to be able to walk ever again and then being able to just stand up and move those legs again, it's, I mean, there's not words. Just no words."

It was eight years ago when Zielenski fell from a tree stand. He woke up paralyzed from the waist down.

"If you've ever had someone close to you die, that's what it feels like. Every single day because you're reminded of it every day that you wake up. Your bottom half is just dead," he said.

After several years of despair, Zielenski found that light at the end of the tunnel – a special machine by the company ReWalk.

The machine not only allows Zielenski to stand up and walk on his own, but it gives him hope.

"When someone tells you you can't walk and then someone says you can, yeah, let's do it. Let's go," he said.

That's when Zielenski hit a road block. His insurance wouldn't cover it. With a price tag of more than $80,000, paying out of pocket was not an option.

TV5 featured Zielenski in a Rescue Squad segment and a viewer called right away.

"Oakland Orthopedics, Corey Smith. It hasn't even finished yet and the story didn't even finish yet and he was on the phone with me, telling me that we'll figure it out," Zielenski said.

That's exactly what Smith did with help from ReWalk. They gave Zielenski his very own machine allowing him to walk once again.

"I don't know what to say that they've given me, not just me, they've given my family the opportunity to see me walk. It seems so trivial, but when it's taken away from you and you're able to do it again, I don't know what to say," Zielenski said.

It's not easy work. Zielenski has to attend several more training sessions. But Zachary Waugh, with ReWalk, said he is off to a good start.

"Corey's doing a really great job. He's super motivated, which helps. Having that motivation is key," Waugh said.

As Zielenski keeps on keeping on, he knows it's those baby steps that count the most.

"I learned to walk one before and I'll learn this," he said.

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