Community rallies behind injured teen

MECHANICSVILLE, VA (WWBT) - A local family is getting by with a little help from their friends - and the entire Hanover community.

16 year-old Cole Sydnor is paralyzed from the chest down after a freak accident in the James River this summer.

It's one thing to send a card or make a few visits to the hospital, it's another to organize several large fundraisers.

Cole's friends call themselves the "C-Squad" and they've sprung into action to help their friend's family through a difficult time.

Kids jump into the James River all the time in the summer.

"It was a perfect, fun day at the James River," said Cole's best friend Will Woodward.  "There wasn't much else to do."

Woodward never imagined that fun day in the water would turn his life, and the life of his best friend Cole, upside down. Cole fractured his neck after he dove into the water and hit a submerged rock.

"You never think this would happen to one of your friends," Woodward said.  "It's something you see in the movies, in the news, and now it's real and it actually happened."

Cole is paralyzed from the chest down. He's now in a rehab facility in Atlanta.

Cole's friends have sprung into action, raising money to help the Sydnor's make their home handicap accessible.

"From here it's as worse as it's going to get," he said.  "It can only get more positive. We're just trying to get the community into it and then."

So far the community has rallied behind Cole.

"People that didn't even know him were asking how they can help," said Katharine Leitch.

Cole's friends helped to launch rollwithcole.org. It lists all the fundraisers for Cole including a 5k this Saturday and a golf tournament this Sunday.

"It's really brought our community," said Meg Bowers.  "It's brought people together you never would expect to be friends."

Now the cliche of turning lemons into lemonade has become all too real for these students.

"I wish it never happened," Woodward said.  "But it has happened and we have to be there for him and do everything we can."

We spoke with Cole's mother Kelly on the phone from Atlanta. She says the support back home keeps Cole motivated during his rehabilitation. She says her family can focus on taking care of Cole knowing their friends are taking care of them back home in Richmond.

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