It has been exactly a year since a Lincolnton firefighter became paralyzed after diving into shallow water in Lake Norman.
Adam Dancoff's benefits as a firefighter are about to run out.
He told Eyewitness News that is not stopping him from one day working to serve others again.
He can't stand on his own, but Dancoff is working his muscles in preparation for the day that he hopes he can.
"I know it is a very long road and it's a very slow one, but every step is rewarding," he said.
The 22-year-old has been in recovery for the past year after a spinal injury from driving into Lake Norman.
Dancoff lost all feeling from the waist down.
Doctors said he would never walk again, but in physical therapy he is already proving them wrong.
He comes to Phoenix Physical Therapy in Denver two to three times a week.
He practices weight-baring exercises to strengthen his legs. Just last week he regained control of his quads.
"I had my quads firing working those muscles and then we moved to the bike, which also worked the quads," he said.
Lydia Boyles and Dancoff have been dating for four years. Throughout it all, she has stood by his side and said he is coming a long way.
"When he is in his chair he can actually bear his weight with his arms and actually pick his bottom off the chair and that's what we've been working on in physical therapy," she said.
After the accident, Dancoff's co-workers built him a handicap-accessible ramp and amenities to make things easier.
Dancoff said he would not be recovering as well without all of the support.
"They act like nothing has changed a bit, they come by the house, if I'm in the hospital they come visit, text messages, it's a brotherhood, and they are always there," he said.
Over the past year, Dancoff said he has learned a lot about himself, and while he may never be a firefighter again, he hopes that the challenges he has faced with his spinal injury will help him once again to help others in their time of need.
"My heart is definitely in emergency services. And I will end up somewhere in EM however it may be. Behind the scenes if nothing else," he said.