A Rome man who is paralyzed from the chest down after a freak diving accident on Oneida Lake vows to walk again.

Gavin Maloney was enjoying a day on Oneida Lake when something he'd done a hundred times, suddenly turned tragic. Sunday August 19th, Gavin dove through a large inner tube but his waist got caught in the hole, causing him to plunge straight down, hitting the bottom of the shallow lake. The accident left him with a shattered vertebra, and paralyzed from the chest down.

To date, Gavin has had two major surgeries to remove, repair and replace three damaged vertebrae in his neck. "He continues to push through it all with an amazing positive attitude, a smile and a handshake to offer to anyone who enters his room," says Gavin's mother Sandra Maloney.

Gavin is in Boston at Spaulding Rehab Hospital, the second best hospital for spinal cord injury rehabilitation for the next 3 to 6 months. "If you know Gavin, then you know he is insistent he will be walking again," says Sandra. "His positive attitude is amazing and it will take him far on this journey."

Photo Credit: Sandra Maloney

Gavin's journey isn't one he's taking alone. Sandra says the outpouring of support is overwhelming. "We can't believe the amount of people who have reached out to us in our time of need. The unconditional love we are receiving comes from around the entire world. The many cards he has received is one of the highlights of his day. Even the nurses are jealous and call it is fan-mail."

Friends, family and strangers are coming together to help Gavin walk again with a Facebook fundraiser and GoFundMe campaign. More than $12,000 has been raised towards the $500,000 goal.

Between two surgeries, insurance deductibles, extended hospital care, non-covered expenses and 3-6 months of rehabilitation, Gavin's hospital bills will be astronomical. The Maloney’s do have some insurance, but nowhere near enough to cover the burdensome expenses that lie ahead. If you can find it in your heart, please consider donating to help Gavin with his medical bills.

Learn more about Gavin and his journey at I Walk For Gavin.

"As his parents, we are so proud of him and how remarkable his attitude is. It gives us such encouragement. We are so grateful he is still with us and we get to see his beautiful smile is still shining."

Photo Credit: Sandra Maloney