SAN RAMON (KTVU) -- From the field to the weight room, Jake Javier used to spend a lot of time working out.
Instead of building his body for football, the former San Ramon Valley High School team captain is now spending a lot of time just relearning how to move his body.
Javier, 18, broke his neck June 9, during a diving accident at a swim party on the last day of school. He is facing an uphill battle but he seems optimistic about his chances.
“Every day it feels like it’s getting easier,” he said. “And every day I get more energy and am able to stay up in the chair longer. That's one of the most energy draining things is (just) sitting upright.”
Dr. James Crew, oversees the rehab program at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, and is one of Javier’s physicians.
“In Jake’s case, he has paralysis of his hands, partial paralysis of his upper arms and full paralysis of his lower body, including paralysis of several organ systems, including his lungs, bowel and bladder,” Crew said.
It’s been over four weeks since the star football player was flown to John Muir Medical Center for treatment. The accident occurred on the eve of his high school graduation.
The X-rays show the severity of the injury he suffered at a backyard pool. His mother, Isabelle Javier, recalls how frantic she was when she arrived at the hospital.
“When he saw me he started to cry,” she said, adding that she believes he has accepted that he may never walk again.
His doctors have re-aligned Jake’s spine through the use of two metal rods and 8 screws that are an effort to relieve the pressure on his damaged spinal cord.
During his treatment, Jake contracted another illness.
“I got pneumonia (and) my lungs collapsed,” he said. “So, while I was on a ventilator helping me breathe it was really difficult all the time (and) it really drew a lot of energy.”
The internal drive and determination that helped him succeed on the football field now powers his resolve as he fights off the opportunistic infections that are invading his body. Javier is confined to a wheelchair but in recent weeks he has started to show improvement in his upper body strength and gaining some movement in different parts of his arms.
“The important one that I have back is the wrists - because that's how I'm able to grab things - so moving forward I am going to have to live my life just flexing my wrists and it brings my finger and thumb together,” he said.
“He hasn't cried since; he hasn't complained since; he hasn't said why me; he hasn't acted sad,” said his mother, Isabelle. “He has just been very stoic and focused, like the athlete that is.”
The Javier family knows Jake has a long road ahead but they say the overwhelming show of support from family, friends and the community – as well as strangers – has been incredibly uplifting and inspiring.
Visits by local athletes, including former 49er Ronnie Lott, Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr and running back Roy Helu Jr., have been special moments for Javier.
He also received a visit from Cal Poly football coach Jim Craft, who recruited Javier before the accident.
“The number of people that have been coming up to people I know and asking about me, I mean I went through my phone earlier and (saw) texts from people I don't know and looking on social media and stuff and all the support – it’s pretty crazy,” Javier said, adding that it’s nice knowing that other people are looking out and praying for him.
“I’m just very thankful to my parents and my family,” he said. “It makes a huge difference having someone in the room with me and always there to help out if I need anything.”
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From KTVU anchor Julie Haener