Jackson Spinal Cord Injury Patients Ride Hand Bikes at Crandon Park in Key Biscayne

The recreational therapy has helped Aaron Willis, a 15-year-old victim of gun violence.

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    Ten spinal cord injury patients from Jackson Rehabilitation Hospital spent their day at Crandon Park where they rode special hand bikes. David Jeannot spoke with 15-year-old Aaron Willis, a recent victim of gun violence that left him paralyzed, about the event. (Published Thursday, May 2, 2013)

    Flipping burgers, playing dominoes and taking in that South Florida sun is how 10 spinal cord injury Patients from Jackson Rehabilitation Hospital spent their day at Cradon Park in Key Biscayne.

    The event was especially meaningful for 15-year-old Aaron Willis.

    Speakers at Miami Jackson Senior High Forum Seek Ways To End Cycle of Gun Violence

    [MI] Speakers at Miami Jackson Senior High Forum Seek Ways To End Cycle of Gun Violence
    High school freshman Aaron Willis sat in the auditorium at Miami Jackson Senior High School. Once part of the football team, Aaron is now paralyzed from the waist down. His father, Sammie Willis, was just one of the speakers affected by gun violence who took part in a roundtable discussion at Miami Jackson Senior High on Monday. Sherman Henry and Luther Campbell also comment. (Published Tuesday, April 23, 2013)

    "It feels good that I'm not the only one that's been through this there's other people here like me." said willis.

    Last December, Willis was riding his bike in Wynwood when police said someone in a car shot him in the back, leaving him paralyzed.

    The Booker T. Washington High School student spent several weeks at Holtz Children's hospital before beginning therapy at Jackson Rehabilitation Hospital.

    His mother said she is glad to see him in good spirits since the incident.

    "He's a strong young man and he got a good support, so that's a blessing," said mother Catherine Beaton.

    VIDEO: Paraplegics Walk With Exoskeleton Technology

    Cathy Herring, a recreation therapist at Jackson says they're trying to keep the patients active with what will eventually be everyday activities.

    "What we do is we bring them here just to show them Crandon, the beach," she said. "People usually bring their bikes on the weekend and ride with their family, so we're trying to show them these are things that you can still do."

    Aaron use to be a high school track and football athlete and now he's paralyzed from the waist down. He said the hand bike is what really gets him going.

    "On the bike I feel good because I can still move fast like I did on my bike," he said. "A wheelchair, it's kinda slower than me walking."

    Herring said the other patients look up to Willis.

    "They can't believe how much he's improved, and what he's doing, and how much he can do on his own that he doesn't need the help of his parents," she said.

    Now willis is home-schooled and said the best thing to do is keep moving forward and enjoy life.

    "There's still stuff I can do even though my legs are not moving," he said. "My mind still works so I can do whatever I want."