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Nick Balenger: A survivor's tale
August 17, 2012 - Robert Collias
If I have ever written a more inspirational story than this one I can't recall it.
Nick Balenger came to Maui on July 24 fresh off a successful summer season, looking forward to a dream vacation with his family, to the place he was born. Instead of going to Maui Memorial Medical Center to check out the delivery room he spent his first days of life in, he spent 20 days in the new ICU wing in the front of the building, including his 17th birthday on July 31.
Balenger suffered a severe spinal chord injury on the second day he was on the island at Big Beach. He had no movement below his chest until the day I had a chance to talk to him and after talking to his amazing mom, Sylvie Balenger a few minutes ago, that progress has continued as he lifted one of his legs off his bed today.
Dad Steve Balenger is pretty amazing, as well. Big brother Alex Balenger I did not have a chance to meet, but he sounds like he fits right in with the rest of the family — it was his idea for the group to get tattoos that read "Na Koa Ohana" or the strong family.
Believe me I could have written at least five stories similar to the link above with completely different material, but I think the link tells the tale pretty well. Let me just add that Nick's background as a standout baseball player has helped in his recovery so far, without a doubt.
The media coverage may have started here — I believe I am the only journalist to have spoken with Nick so far — but it certainly didn't end here.
At least two television stations in the Washington, D.C., area were there for the family's arrival home. Check out one that features Nick wearing the gear brought to him by Na Koa Ikaika Maui players and staffers here and another TV station story here.
You can sign up to add well wishes for Nick Balenger here.
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