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Paralyzed firefighter's journey to walk and mental health calling

Posted at 3:14 PM, Oct 13, 2019

An accident two years ago changed the life of an area firefighter forever. On May 17, 2017, Vince Castelly was driving to his Loxahatchee home when a car crashed into him leaving him paralyzed. In addition to wanting to walk again, Castelly has a message and newfound outlook on life for everyone whose life has changed because of the unexpected.

“You can see my situation, but you don’t really know,” said Castelly.

When WPTV spoke with him last year, the nerves in his feet were communicating with his brain. He was doing strength training three days a week. And today, there’s more victories to report on his journey.

”Being able to transfer myself over to a chair,” he said.

But the victories don't tell the whole story. Rehab is tough, but just getting there in tougher.

”It’s $4,000 a month and in order to go rehab, I need transportation,” he said. “And in order for me to go to a doctor I need transportation.”

Which is why on Saturday evening, first responders, family and friends gathered in Delray Beach for a fundraiser to help Castelly purchase his own paratransit vehicle. He estimates it could cost between $75,000 to $120,000. And that’s just the economic toll.

”I had a counselor come to me everyday,” Castelly said.

He says when tragedy struck he was at the pinnacle of his career and inline to be an acting captain within his fire department. Castelly says he's been facing his own mental health challenges and the level of support needed to keep him sane has inspired him to be a mental health counselor for others. His message: Everything happens for a reason but take advantage of the situation. He’ll use the vehicle purchased through Saturday’s fundraiser to get back-and-forth to college.

“I’ve never seen anybody maintain so much positivity in a bad circumstance,” said Daniel Abraira, an officer within the Palm Beach Gardens Police Department. “This is the perfect person to talk to.”

Ofc. Abraira was the responding officer Castelly credits for keeping him alive following the accident that changed his life.

”I just wanted to stay with him,” Abraira said.

Castelly even named his two-year-old son, Daniel, after him. And both men are looking forward to walking together and helping others.

”You got to crawl before you walk,” Castelly added.

To learn more about Castelly's journey visit: