Faith keeps family going after son's tragic accident

Faith keeps family going after son's tragic accident


by ANN SHERIDAN / NBC Charlotte Staff

Bio | Email | Follow: @SheridanWCNC

Posted on February 12, 2013 at 7:53 AM

Updated Tuesday, Feb 12 at 8:00 AM

CHARLOTTE, N.C.-- Karen Andrade finally got her son home.  It took almost three months.

"I have felt God's gentleness in all of this," she said.

Andrade's son, Nick, a Charlotte Catholic graduate and high school swimming standout, became paralyzed from the neck down after a swimming accident in his father's home country of Brazil. 

The Andrades were visiting Brazil last September when the accident occurred.

Now that Nick Andrade is home, each family member spends time with the 18-year-old, aiding him while he eats and moving his limbs so they don't become stiff.

"We have to move it for him until he can move it himself.  And I do believe he'll move again himself," said Karen Andrade as she stretched her son's arms and bent each finger one-by-one.

Her faith is unwavering.  

"It's what keeps me going.  I know God is real," she said.

The family is hoping doctors at a rehab hospital in Louisville, Kentucky, may be able to get Nick Andrade off the ventilator. 

If he can breath on his own, Andrade will have a better chance of also moving his hands, his mother says.

But the stay in the rehab hospital will be long, and family is not encouraged to stay.  Right now, a close friend is planning to help Nick while he's in Kentucky.

Karen Andrade explains her struggle through tears.

"It's hard because he's so vulnerable.  He can't speak.  He can't move his arms or work call buttons, so it's scary," she says.

But Nick Andrade is not afraid.  He can still smile and laugh.  And recently visited his friends from Charlotte Catholic at a high school swim meet.  His brother, Victor, never left his side.

"My dream for him is to get better.  I visualize him walking every day," said Victor Andrade.   "When I look at him I see a strong man.  I know who he is and what he's made to do in the world," he said.

Nick Andrade has a hard time talking, but did tell us that, "through this experience I've seen the meaning of love, not only from my family, but from my friends too."

"I know I'm going to get better," he said.