ATHENS, Ga. - Devon Gales has celebrated many special milestones this year after walking for the first time since being critically injured during a football game in Athens two years ago. Thursday marks yet another milestone, his 24th birthday.
On September 26, 2015, Devon, a Southern University wide receiver, lost his ability to walk after being hit during a kickoff return during a game against the University of Georgia. He never got up after the hit and suffered a paralyzing neck injury. Following emergency surgery, Devon was transferred to Atlanta's Shepherd Center where he began his road to recovery.
He's since graduated from Shepherd Center but continues working toward his goal of walking again on his own through the facility's "Beyond Therapy" program. He travels with his family back and forth between Atlanta and Baton Rouge, which is where he's from.
This past May, Devon walked for the first time since his injury. His mother said he's been using a machine that's similar to having robotic legs, allowing him to walk with assistance.
Since his injury, Devon has never given up hope and he's stayed focused on a path toward full recovery.
Thursday morning, Devon's mother, Tish, wished her son a happy birthday on Facebook.
"You continue to be an inspiration to so many, God has been so good to us! So, on this day I want to wish you a very happy birthday!"
Mrs. Gales said Devon will celebrate turning 24 by attending a birthday dinner on UGA's campus Thursday evening.