Sebastopol teen's recovery, one year later

A Sebastopol teenager, battling back from paralysis, is making remarkable strides a year later.

Wednesday evening, a community event called "Flock Together", celebrated the tenacity of 18 year old Carson Pforsich. 

Pforsich, in his motorized wheelchair, was the guest of honor with a live band, and his friends gathered around.  

But Pforsich wasn't likely to stay out late, not with his daily workout routine. 

An hour before the benefit event, he was still at the gym at physical therapy, stretching muscles and performing dexterity exercises. 

"My goal is to keep getting better every day," Pforsich told KTVU, "and try to get back to the point where I was when I dove in the ocean."

It was September 2017: Carson was with friends at Bodega Bay when he dove into a wave and injured his spinal cord.    

He was immediately paralyzed from the chest down, and pulled form the ocean by a buddy.

For an avid athlete, wide-receiver on his high school team, the thought of not playing, not walking, was an incredible blow.

But even in his early days in the hospital, undergoing major surgery, Carson stayed positive and kept his sense of humor. 

"When I woke up from my operation, I wanted to know how Marshawn Lynch did in his game," Carson told KTVU at the time, " because he's on my fantasy football team."

More than a month of intense rehabilitation at a South Bay facility followed.

But Carson resumed school, managing independently in his wheelchair, and graduated on time with his class at Analy High School.

His accident was life-changing. 

"It's in my head all the time, every day, the whole day," he admits, "and sometimes I think about what I would be doing if I hadn't gotten hurt."

But he doesn't dwell on it, instead focusing his energy on a rigorous workout schedule to regain strength and mobility.  

His parents and sister, who get Carson to his appointments and tend to his needs, wouldn't have it any other way. 
"If he going to work this hard, there's no way we're going to let him down, we're going to work that hard too," his mom Andrea told KTVU. 

"He lifts us up, " said father Andy Pforsich, " and right now it's just important to throw everything we can at it, during this window of opportunity."

It's a "window" because Carson progress is so impressive, at a time that new research holds promise for getting people with spinal cord injuries back on their feet.

Stimulating the spinal cord with implanted electrodes has helped people overcome paralysis, especially when paired with intensive therapy. 

Three months ago, the Pforsich family traveled to a clinic in Thailand, for stem cell treatment not yet approved in the U.S. 

Since the infusions, Carson has noticed improved strength and sensation.   

One test of motor skills involves tapping out notes on an electronic keyboard; previously Carson couldn't lift a finger to the keys or press them. 

"Two months ago I couldn't come close to playing a song, but now I have four, so that feels pretty cool," he smiled.   

Wednesday's community event was a family friendly get-together, free with donations accepted. 

A GoFundMe account also helps raise money to offset Carson's medical needs. 

His determination has been recognized by the Sebastopol City Council, and banners were flown on city streets honoring Carson as a "Local Who Makes a Difference".

"Of course he was a football star and a leader in his class," said Brian Langermann, one of his physical therapists. 

"The whole town is so overwhelmed by him, and so supportive, he's just pulled the whole community together." 

At home in Sebastopol, the living room has become Carson's room, decorated in football memorabilia, and jerseys from his favorite team, the Jacksonville Jaguars. 

Football Sunday is the only day he skips his workout. 

Carson's goal is full recovery, so he wants his mind and body ready when a medical breakthrough comes. 

"You just have to keep on fighting," he said simply, "because you never know what's around the corner."