Students look to help former classmate after life-threatening injury

Students look to help former classmate after life-threatening injury


by ANN SHERIDAN / NBC Charlotte Staff

Bio | Email | Follow: @SheridanWCNC

Posted on November 15, 2012 at 7:45 AM

Updated Thursday, Nov 15 at 5:10 PM

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Suzanne Albertson's chemistry class at Charlotte Catholic High School begins like most classes.  But it's how the class ends that is different. 

"We're going to say continued prayers for Nick Andrade," says Albertson to her class.

"He's regained feeling in one of his arms, so things are much better than they were," she said.

Albertson is praying for Nick Andrade, a former student who spent all four years  in Albertson's homeroom class.

"Watching him grow into a leader was just amazing, " she said through tears.

In October, while in Brazil with family, the Charlotte Catholic swimmer dove into a lake, hit his head, and suffered serious spinal cord injuries.  Those injuries are so bad, Andrade must be transported back to Charlotte in an air ambulance. 

"If I could use one word to describe Nick, it would be passion," said former teammate and  CCHS Swim Captain Matthew Rigali.

"Everything he does, he's passionate about, whether it's big or small, he puts 100 percent in all he does,  and I know he's doing that now," said Rigali.

But Facebook posts from Andrade's mother paint a tragic picture.  She is in Brazil with her son.

"We had a very difficult weekend," said one post.  "He didn't do much breathing on his own," said another. 

And now the family is faced with the unthinkable.  They are having trouble getting their son home.  The air ambulance he needs to get home, costs $70,000.

Rigali calls that frustrating.

"Yes, it is because he's got a ton of people here who could help him get better care than he's getting in Brazil," he said.

Andrade's coach has a message for the student who many call outgoing and fun to be around.

"It would be to hang in there," said Brian Gross.  "He's a fighter, he's strong willed," he said. 

Albertson has a message too.

"That the lord helps us bear all things.  That good can come from any situation and that there's always hope," she said.

And for now, hope is the lesson students are clinging to.

If you'd like more information about the student's efforts to bring Nick home, click here.

A fundraiser will be held at the Reserve Shopping and Vendor Extravaganza on the corner of Newtown Road and Crane Road in Waxhaw from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.