Goochland man returns home in donated van after diving accident

Goochland man returns home in donated van after diving accident

GOOCHLAND, VA (WWBT) - A young Goochland man is finally home after a diving accident left him partially paralyzed.

Riley Saunders underwent two grueling months of therapy before leaving VCU Medical Center Thursday afternoon.

The Saunders family says there are mixed emotions as they head home, but say they wouldn't be able to make this transition if it wasn't for the community's support.

It's been a long, challenging summer for Riley Saunders.

"I'm good. How are you?" says Riley getting out of the hospital.

After a beach accident left him paralyzed from the chest down, he has called the hospital home, until now.

"I'm ready for some home-cooked meals and just not being bothered by everybody, peacefulness," he says smiling.

While Riley's ready to go, his mom Gwen is a little nervous.

"It's exciting and nervous at the same time. Now, I had help when I needed help here, now at home, I'm going to have to rely on my memory to get me through," says Gwen.

But, the community and complete strangers have rallied around the Saunders. A man, who asked to remain anonymous, donated a handicapped accessible van after seeing our story in June.

"The community has been 100 percent awesome. I don't know how we would have done it these last two months without 'em. Everybody's been great," Gwen said smiling.

A "Let's Rally for Riley" Facebook page has kept family, friends and well-wishers updated on the 23-year-old's progress.

When we first met Riley in June, he could barely move his fingers. He's doing better these days. He's gone from five minutes in the stand-up wheelchair to nearly 45 minutes.

Every hurdle cleared is a victory, including his move back home.

"We're glad to be back all together. We haven't had family time in over two months, running back and forth to the hospital. So all together, it will be awesome," says mom Gwen.

The family says the house wasn't completely ready for Riley today, but a contractor volunteered his services to make the bathroom handicapped accessible and a bed was being delivered Thursday afternoon.

Meanwhile, Riley will continue physical therapy Monday.

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