Two years ago Thomas White, 20, was in a coma, unable to talk, let alone walk.
Now, despite numerous doctors saying he would never walk again,
he is about to complete a 10km walk to fundraise for a local charity that has supported him and his family over the past two years.
In November 2018, Thomas was involved in a car crash, suffering severe brain damage and losing the ability to walk.
With plenty of determination and the support of his family, Thomas has surpassed his medical team's expectations, and hopes to now also surpass his fundraising goals.
Thomas is taking part in the Nexan Fun Run/Walk in Stratford, and is asking people to sponsor him as part of his fundraising for Stratford-based charity Team HOPE.
It was Team HOPE, says Thomas, who were there to support him and his family immediately after the accident and in the two years since.
The accident just north of Whanganui claimed the life of
his older brother Daniel, who was 25.
In the days and months that followed the White family were grieving Daniel while also worrying about and visiting Thomas who had been airlifted to Wellington Hospital in a critical condition.
Team HOPE were quick to offer the Stratford family support and Thomas and Daniel's father, Matt, says that support was invaluable.
From gifting the family petrol vouchers to help with the costs of travelling to and from Thomas' hospital bed, to grocery vouchers and other support, Team HOPE have been with them every step of the way, Matt says.
Now Thomas wants to support Team HOPE, step by step along the 10km route he plans to complete as a fundraiser for the charity.
He won't be taking any of those steps for granted, he says.
The accident left Thomas in a coma for two months and while his broken bones have since healed, the resultant brain injury meant he had to relearn basic skills such as talking and eating as well as walking.
After many months in Wellington, initially in hospital and then at the ABI (Acquired Brain Injury) clinic, Thomas is now living back home in Stratford with his parents.
He and his mother Marie go for a walk together every night as part of his training for next month's charity fundraiser. He also goes to the Lion's Den gym in Stratford to train, and takes the family dog for walks each day. All these are things that seemed a long way away just two years ago, but determination and attitude has helped him keep going, Thomas says.
"I set myself little goals to complete and I feel proud when I do."
One goal is to complete the 10km walk in November, another is to drive again, while a third is to return to work in the trade he loves, the building industry.
"Ever since day dot I've wanted to be a builder. I was six months into my apprenticeship with Naki Builders when the crash happened."
Matt says it's obvious every day just how well Thomas is progressing.
"I help him with his everyday care. As we go along it gets less and less. The progress he has made is amazing. He can make his bed and get himself breakfast and lunch.
"We don't know how far his progress is going to go but he's already surpassed what was expected. A doctor from ABI said in their 21 years as a doctor, they had never seen a recovery like Thomas'."
Thomas says he is looking forward to the 10km Nexan fun walk.
Marie says she and Thomas will be walking together, with members of Team HOPE joining them as well.
Fundraising for the charity is something she says is important to their family, after experiencing the support they give first-hand.
"We want to support them as they helped us. They're local and they help anyone and everybody."
In the days and months that followed the accident, Marie says the entire community rallied around them.
"We had neighbours who mowed our lawns and Thomas' church Mountain View Vineyard Church put together a food basket.
"I work at New World in Stratford and they were a big help, they also gave us vouchers. New World have also donated a gift basket that we are raffling off to raise money for Team HOPE."
Thomas says he's wanting to raise as much money for Team HOPE as he can.
"They're a good cause to support. They helped us and now I'm wanting to help them."
As for the challenge of the walk itself, Thomas says if he can do it, so can anyone else.
"I'm proud of myself because I am doing this. The way I see it, I have a severe brain injury and I'm walking 10km, what are other people's excuses? Everyone says they can't do it, but if they put their mind to it, they can."
■ The Nexan Fun Run/Walk takes place November 1. To donate to Thomas directly or to purchase a raffle ticket, contact Marie on 765 4442 or 027 869 0755. Otherwise, there are collection boxes at Mackays Unichem Pharmacy, Subway, Best for Less, Central Tyres and Automotive, and InkPot Cafe at Mitre 10 Stratford.