Bill Capo / Action Reporter
NEW ORLEANS -- Wes Bandemer did something miraculous when he lifted his arm so he could shake my hand. It was a huge accomplishment for a man who has been almost totally paralyzed.
"I can see my future being so much better than where I'm at. For the first time since being paralyzed, it'll be six years this year, I can actually see that my life is going to change."
Wes was paralyzed when a fall during a motorcycle race broke his neck in 2006. A year ago Wes depended on a bulky motorized wheelchair. His arms had to be strapped to the chair.
"I was strapped down to my arm rest, because if my arm fell off then it would pull my whole body over, and I would be stuck like that, so now I can actually almost push the chair. I mean, I'm very excited for what's to come."
Donations from Eyewitness News viewers helped send Wes to India last spring for 12 weeks of stem cell treatments that he documented on home video. He began seeing improvements in six weeks.
"It was very emotional that first day that we saw big movement while we were there," said his mother Mechelle. "It brought tears."
Now Wes can sit up on his own in a standard wheelchair, and the man doctors thought would never use his arms again is developing the ability to push it with his own hands.
"I'm so excited," said Wes.
However, Wes said he has not been able to improve upon the progress he made in India since he returned to the United States, so he's going back to India the day after Mardi Gras, for another round of treatments that will last for five weeks.
He has high expectations.
"This is gonna change his life for the rest of his life, and give him things that everybody else takes for granted," said Mechelle.
They've raised $10,000 of the $25,000 needed for the trip, with donations and sales of clothing with designs Wes created as he makes plans for the future. "I just want to be able to feed myself and drive, and push my chair and push myself around, just live fully independently."
You can visit his website at www.wes4one7.com.