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Dive into shallow water leaves man paralyzed

Mark Raymond works until he is exhausted in the rehab unit at Touro Infirmary.

NEW ORLEANS -- Mark Raymond works until he is exhausted in the rehab unit at Touro Infirmary.

Much of his body is paralyzed, but he smiles and jokes with his therapists, the picture of determination.

"I'd like to say I put 200 percent in every day. I put 100 percent into physical therapy and another 100 percent into occupational therapy."

It was July 4, just two months ago, when Raymond nearly died off Pontchartrain Beach.

"I dove off a boat and broke my neck, and immediately I was lying face down in the water," Mark said. "I looked down, eyes open in the water, and I could see the ground, and I realized I couldn't move my arms and my legs."

His family said the road to recovery has been rough.

"I'm grateful he's alive," said Ronda Raymond, his mother. "He essentially died. He died three times."

Mark said he doesn’t remember much about his trip to the hospital.

"Two-and-a-half weeks later I woke up in a hospital bed, not knowing what day it was, not knowing what time it was, only that I was alive," Mark recalled.

Now he praises his therapists for helping him work as hard as he can.

"I'm hoping for a full recovery, I'm very, very hopeful for a full recovery, I believe it's going to happen because every day I get more and more back," Mark said.

"Mentally he's fighting, physically he's working hard," Ronda added.

Mark can't wait for Sept. 21. That's the day he is scheduled to leave Touro and go home to his parent’s house. However, to make it happen, he needs help with transportation and renovations.

"A van to ride in, accessible ramps to get into the house, shower stall, bathroom facility," Ronda explained. Doors in the home also need to be widened.

Friends are holding fundraising events, there is a GoFundMe account, and the messages mean so much.

"It brings tears to my eyes every time I look at it," Mark said.

"Help means becoming a fully able Mark again, potentially to walk," Ronda added.

Donations can be mailed to Post Office Box 8653, New Orleans, LA 70182. Click here to donate via GoFundMe.