USF student overcomes paralysis to earn degree helping children overcome difficulties

Avi Davidson was paralyzed at age 16

TAMPA, Fla. — Avi Davidson will graduate from the University of South Florida on Saturday.

Many might consider the moment a miraculous achievement after what occurred nine years ago.

“It is an accomplishment after having suffered so much,” Davidson says.

When Avi was just 16, he scaled a power pole in Northdale trying to take a picture of a sunset.

As he climbed down, Avi slipped and fell 35 feet, but not before grabbing a live wire.

The fall would break some 50 bones and paralyze him. The electrocution severely burned him. Doctors would amputate his left hand.

Avi can smile again following an arduous recovery that took a mental and emotional toll.

He is still a photographer. USF helped him realize his dream of having a gallery show after he returned from Poland where he took a series of pictures about the Holocaust.

More than anything, Avi knows the perils of being a kid dealing with severe trauma. He is earning his degree at USF in behavioral healthcare with a focus on childhood development.

“I can still associate with going through pain, struggle and strife,” Davidson says. “Waking up in pain every morning yet having to go through the day with a smile on my face.”

He wants kids to know that genuine smiles really do come back someday.

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