GASTONIA, N.C. -- For more than a month, Marissa Andrade has had one goal: to get her brother home.
“He said, ‘I need you to stay strong for me,’” she recalls of the last time she spoke to her brother Nick Andrade, a Charlotte Catholic graduate and high school swimmer.
Andrade’s father is from Brazil, and the teen was with his parents, when he made a tragic mistake.
“He dove like this,” Marissa Andrade said as she waves her hand. “It was only knee deep water with rocks.”
The high school swimmer nearly drowned.
“I know that anyone in my family would trade places with him,” she said through tears.
The teen who loved to climb, swim and run is paralyzed from the neck down. For more than a month, Marissa Andrade has stayed in touch with her parents and brother through Facebook.
Their goal: to get Nick home to Charlotte. But the special air ambulance he needs to make it safely home costs more than $70,000.
In November, friends held a swim-a-thon and classmates sold wrist bands. Neighbors also have worked tirelessly to raise money.
Now the news they’ve waited for. There is enough money for a deposit. Nick is scheduled to come home on December 1. They are hopeful doctors here can help Nick walk again.
“We have the most faith in God. He’s the one who says the final answer,” Marissa Andrade said.