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Paralyzed Onslow County teen hopes to find new van, makes progress in therapy

By Alison Parker
Published On: Dec 24 2013 03:28:14 AM CST
Updated On: Aug 27 2013 04:22:27 PM CDT
SWANSBORO, ONSLOW COUNTY -

 Hugo Rubirosa -- the 18-year-old Jacksonville High School graduate who was injured in a wrestling match back in January 2012 -- is always on the go. But it's not just his motorized chair that helps him get around.

"It would be cool to roll up in my own car, leave whenever, go wherever," Rubirosa said.

He spent months going through intensive medical procedures, rehab and therapy after his wrestling accident. Now, still left with some paralysis, he's in need of a new van -- one he can drive on his own.

"The van doesn't have air conditioning, and one of the windows is messed up, so I'm sitting in a hot van, hot summer day," Rubirosa said.

The lack of A/C caused him to have a heat stroke back in June, causing him to miss his high school graduation ceremony. His family needs an upgraded van, but that could cost more than $40,000.

"It would make my life so much easier," Rubirosa said. "I mean, this is a constant pain. I mean, there used to be a time where it used to stop in the middle of the road."

But a broken down van won't stop him from reaching his ultimate goal. He's headed to a hospital in Georgia this Friday to pursue more intense therapy, so he can one day walk again.

"They just have me working all day, all the time," Rubirosa said. "That's the kind of stuff that I need because slacking off isn't going to help."

He's also on top of his school work. He's taking accounting and English classes online through Coastal Carolina Community College.

"I'm working on just getting used to doing stuff by myself -- getting more....independent," Rubirosa said.

Whatever the challenge, he can face it with a smile and positive attitude.

"Things happen," Rubirosa said. "I let it happen, and I keep rolling."

He's talking to several local car dealers to try to find a van that fits his needs. He also plans on fundraising to help pay for it.