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East County Wednesday, Apr. 15, 2020 2 months ago

Challenge looms for Lakewood Ranch teen

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Parents say their son ready to take on spinal injury rehab.
by: Pam Eubanks Senior Editor

The weeks ahead might be grueling, frustrating and a bit tedious, but Mikey Bavaro is ready for the challenge.

Despite using a wheelchair and realizing his ability to walk again is in doubt, the 17-year-old Lakewood Ranch resident has begun his rehabilitation, said his parents, Giovanna and Louis Bavaro, of Greenbrook.

Mikey Bavaro, a senior lacrosse player at Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School, was boating with friends March 19 when he dove off a boat into shallow water and injured his spine.

Doctors remain unsure if Mikey Bavaro will walk again.

Mikey Babaro started playing lacrosse in middle school after years of playing baseball.

“We have a saying in lacrosse,” Louis Bavaro said. “If you can’t play nice, you play lacrosse. Lacrosse players are very

tough. You’re playing a sport where you’re constantly being hit with a stick.”

When Giovanna Bavaro saw her son smile for the first time since the accident, her heart lifted.

“It gave me hope,” she said. “I want to keep him positive. That’s going to make a huge difference.”

If Mikey Bavaro’s friends have anything to do with it, he will know he is loved.

More than 600 of them donated $50,000 through a GoFundMe page in just three days to pay for his transport March 30 from the Intensive Care Unit at Sarasota Memorial Hospital to Shepherd Center in Atlanta. Dozens of them lined the pavement at Dolphin Aviation waving signs and cheering words of encouragement as Mikey Bavaro pulled up for his flight transport.

The Shepherd Center specializes in spinal chord and brain injuries.

“We’re slowly but surely making some progress,” Louis Bavaro said. “It’s going to be a marathon. It takes a long time for the spinal chord to heal. It’s a slow long process to get all the nerves working.”

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