WASHINGTON, D.C. (WUSA) — Over a hundred Lake Braddock High School students lined up outside National Rehabilitation Hospital in the District to welcome back their beloved classmate.
Nick Balenger of Burke suffered a severe spinal cord injury nearly three weeks ago while diving into a wave head-first during a family vacation in Hawaii. His head hit the ground under the water, dislocating two vertebrae in his spine. He didn’t have any movement below his chest and in his hands.
After two emergency procedures in Maui, surgeons were able to fuse the vertebrae. Monday, he was brought back to Washington to NRH where he is beginning a recovery process. He was greeted with cheers and well-wishes from his Fairfax County friends and classmates.
Sylvie Balenger, Nick’s mother says, “He must have received about 50 or 60 cards from the hospital.”
Steve Balenger, Nick’s father says, “All the support that Nick’s gotten from Caring Bridge from the second my sister setup the sit is unbelievable.”
Nick’s family says he is regaining involuntary movement in his lower body. A sign of encouragement for family members and supporters alike. They are hoping that these are the signs of a remarkable recovery.
“He started moving his knees, I think both knees, and I saw it for myself yesterday so I said ‘okay this is a great sign!’ ” says Sylvie Balenger.
Alex Balenger, Nick’s brother says, “It’s just crazy how fast things happen and how fast things changed, but he is going to get through it.”
The Balengers set up a page on the Caring Bridge website for Nick. On the page, friends and classmates can check Nick’s status throughout the rehab procedure.