13-year-old gymnast paralyzed in skiing accident refuses to give up

VALHALLA, New York (WABC) -- A teenager is heading home for Memorial Day weekend after spending more than two months in the hospital.

A skiing accident left 13-year-old Olivia Benedetto paralyzed from the waist down.

For months she has been through intense rehabilitation to regain her strength and learn to live with her new condition.

It was an emotional goodbye on Friday, but Benedetto is finally headed back home to Breezy Point. And it's an important milestone in a most unexpected journey.

Benedetto is a budding gymnast who taught herself most of what she knows.

But in February, she suffered a spinal cord injury while skiing in Pennsylvania.

After undergoing surgery, she was transferred to Blythedale Children's Hospital in Valhalla.



"I feel like I had a choice whether to be positive or just give up right away," she said.

She amazed doctors and therapists with that positive attitude during two months of intense rehabilitation - strengthening her core and improving her balance.

"I'm still not fully there yet but to do stuff without balance, to even sit up was really hard for me," she said.

Olivia is an athlete, which is something that helped her take on these new physical and mental challenges.

"She has a winning attitude, her level of positivity really helped her through this, it's helped her through it and she's really been an inspiration to other our patients here," said Dr. Kathy Silverman.

And she even made close friends in a short time - which doesn't surprise her mother.

"God made her that way, for as long as I can remember since she was a baby, that's how she is," her mother Colleen Benedetto said.

Benedetto will continue outpatient rehab closer to home. And she doesn't see gymnastics as a thing of the past.

"I'm still looking forward to doing that, so if I push through this, I'll be able to do anything I want to," she said.

"Although the doctor's prognosis is she won't recover more, we don't believe that, we're waiting for science to catch up with faith," her mom said.

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