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Polk man wants story of crash to inspire change

Posted at 8:57 PM, Feb 16, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-16 23:24:56-05
A man hopes his journey to recovery will encourage other people to make better choices.
 
Armando Flores, 28, is paralyzed from the waist down. He crashed his truck May 1 in Polk County. He was driving near State Road 60 and Logistics Parkway in Bartow when he flipped his truck a few times. Deputies said he was tossed out of his truck.
 
“I was falling asleep and then next thing I know I'm out […] by the ditch,” Flores said.
 
Flores said he remembered opening his eyes and wanting to get up, but he couldn’t. He suffered a spinal cord injury.
 
His wife, Yarely Flores, said this has been tough on their family, but they are remaining positive.
 
“He said that he had a few drinks and that he had fallen asleep where he was at with his friends and then he received a call early in the morning and decided to get up and go,” Yarely Flores said.
 
Polk County deputies charged Armando Flores with DUI and driving with a suspended license. The charges were dropped and he received a seatbelt ticket, which officials said he has not paid yet. Authorities said, because of the outstanding charge, his license was suspended.
 
Court officials said in 2014, Armando Flores pleaded guilty to DUI and driving with a suspended license.
Armando said he hopes people will learn from his story.
 
“Sometimes when you’re with friends, they say ‘Yeah you know it’s OK.’ Maybe you should listen to the good friend that (will) tell you, ‘Don’t,’” Armando Flores said.
 
Doctors told Armando Flores he had less than 30 percent chance of walking again. He said he is not giving up and, since November, he has been in therapy at Stay In Step in Tampa.
 
Stay in Step is a nonprofit center that specializes in the recovery of a spinal cord injuries.
 
"You just want to keep doing it to get better to get back,” Armando Flores said.
 
He goes to therapy two days a week. He said his motivation is his family.
 
“Just to be more...more independent and to gain…be able to play again with the kids at least a couple of steps so they can see that, you know, I can get up,” Armando Flores said.
 
Armando Flores said he has noticed he has gotten more strength and has more feeling now because of the therapy sessions at Stay in Step.
 
“I know it was a blessing that...that I survived because of what they said. So, I’m thankful for that,” Armando Flores said.
 
His family set up a GoFundMe account to help pay for his therapy because they said insurance does not cover it. They want to purchase a wheelchair, too.
 
You can find the  GoFundMe page here.
 
Stay In Step also gives people an opportunity to donate money to help pay for people’s therapy at the center. For more information, you can go to StayinStep.org.