by: Linzi Sheldon Updated:
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - A Charlotte family needs help bringing their injured son home and is holding a fundraiser as they try to fly him back from Brazil.
Nick Andrade, 18, broke his neck and suffered spinal cord trauma after a diving accident in Brazil.
Andrade graduated from Charlotte Catholic High School last year and was co-captain of the swimming team.
His former teammates said what happened to him at the end of September was a total shock.
"You never think a swimmer is going to have an accident in the water like that," Matthew Rigali said.
Andrade had moved to Brazil with his family for his father's job. He dived into a lake and hit his head on a rock.
For his former homeroom teacher, Suzanne Albertson, the news hit hard.
"They're our kids," she said, tearing up. "For four years, we get to have them as our kids. When the announcement was first put on, that was a very difficult announcement. One of the nice things about teaching in a Catholic school is we can stop and pray about it."
Former teammate Ryan Hall said Andrade stood out because he was so encouraging to everyone. He calls him the older brother he never had.
"Nick was always there and he was like, 'You know what, you're going to get through this,'" Hall said.
Andrade cannot feel his legs yet but is slowly regaining feeling in his left arm.
His family wants to move back to Charlotte, but an air ambulance from Brazil costs more than $71,000 and is not covered by insurance.
To raise money, Andrade's friends and supporters are holding a swim meet at the Mecklenburg County Aquatic Center. It's where he spent a lot of his time swimming with his club team.
People can donate $25 or more to swim from 4:30 to 6 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 18.
The website has already collected more than $15,000 in donations.
Questions can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rigali said after all Andrade has done for them, it's their turn to give back.
"It's important that we all get together and make sure he can get home," he said.
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