In a fleeting moment, life can change dramatically.
Two summers ago, Fred Quin was celebrating the 4th of July at his family’s lake cottage near Grand Rapids, Michigan. They loaded up the boat and headed to the sand bar.
“I decided to go off the front of the boat, and that’s when it gets fuzzy,” Quin siad.
Quin's girlfriend, Meghan Anderson, noticed Fred was acting strangely. She walked over to him and grabbed his shoulder. He didn’t move.
The group grabbed a raft, put it under Fred, called 911 and floated him to shore. They were met by an ambulance.
Within four hours, Fred was in surgery. He'd shattered his C-6 vertebrae, causing his body to become motionless.
"The surgery was to remove those pieces, put a donor bone in, put a plate in the front side, and on the back side put two rods going down my spine. And they fused my C-5 to C-7 vertebras," Quin said.
The trauma doctor told Fred he would never walk again, and he would be in a wheelchair for the rest of his life.
“It was devastating,” Anderson said.
Quin wasn't giving up on his hope to walk someday, so he spent every day in therapy.
With Anderson always by his side and after months of rehab, there was a sign of progress. Eventually, he began to regain feeling in his leg.
“My first moment was my big toe on my left foot,” Quin said.
Quin moved back home and started intense workouts at Detroit Medical Center's Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan (RIM).
“Fred’s determination is what makes you make it enjoyable to come to work,” RIM Physical Therapist Kyle Weishaupt said.
They have been putting Fred in a wearable motorized machine that helps increase strength and endurance during workouts.
“With the robot, the Exoskeleton, and me, we can get him up, and we can do over 1,000 steps in one session,” Weishaupt said.
As the steps progressed, so did Quin and Anderson’s relationship. On their eight-year dating anniversary, they returned to the water for a pontoon ride, and Quin proposed.
“The next goal is to walk down the aisle with Meghan with just with one crutch,” he said.
On May 12, Meghan became Fred’s bride, and he accomplished his biggest goal.
He walked down the aisle on his wedding day — fulfilling his dream and sharing his special day with family and friends.
“Whether it’s exactly how we wanted it to happen or not, that’s not what matters. It's that we’re doing it together, and we’re happy," Meghan Quin said.
After the honeymoon, the Quins plan on getting back to their life and setting new goals for their future. His next big challenge is to master walking in the grocery store.