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Buffalo Strong: Cheektowaga man fighting to walk again, needs WNY's support

Posted at 8:05 PM, Aug 13, 2021

BUFALLO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Two years ago, a Cheektowaga man was in a horrific car accident that put him in the hospital for four months, and left him paralyzed from the waist down.

Gregory Franzek is inching closer to walking again, but he needs to community's help to continue physical therapy in his hometown.

The accident happened on August 15, 2019 while Gregory and his father were enjoying a safe, motorcycle ride when a car hit him head on.

The then, 24-year-old, was crushed by his motorcycle, and his father who witnessed it all had to remove it.

After being in the hospital for four months, plus having surgery, Gregory had asked his doctor if he would be able to walk again. He was told that was not possible, according to the family.

Gregory's father, Greg Franzek said, "I guess the long-term outlook of his recovery was pretty bleak. They gave him a less than a 1% chance to walk again."The news gutted Gregory, but he eventually used it as motivation to push himself, hoping for a better tomorrow.Gregory said, "I've done therapy in Boston for about a year. A year and a half, so it's gotten me to the point of being independent again. I can drive a car, I can sit up, stand. It just gave me the kind of things in life that when you become paralyzed, you lose a lot of your independence."

"Two years ago, he couldn't even sit up," Barbara Franzek, Gregory's mother told 7 Eyewitness News. In order to receive physical therapy for his spinal injury, he had to leave western New York because there was not a facility of that kind available.

From January 2020 to June 2021, Gregory received PT from a facility in Boston. That is where he was able to gain some mobility in his legs.

Thankfully, The Natalie Barnhard Center for Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation and Recovery, also known as the "Motion Project", opened in June, and had its soft opening.Motion Project Vice President Mary Lynn Barnhard said, "It was very rewarding to finally be able to service people in this area with this type of activity based rehabilitation."

Now, Gregory is able to continue to journey in his hometown.

"I'm scheduled to do 2 hours a day at the therapy center here. It involves everything from being supportive with the trainer, walking, getting muscles to work. They say, 'Use it or lose it', so you want to be out of your chair as much as possible," Gregory said.

However, as he inches closer to being able to walk on his own, The Franzeks hope the community can aid his next two years of therapy, since the therapy bills have created a huge burden on the family's wallet.

Greg said, "The community has been extremely supportive and all of the donations that they've made over the last two years has helped allow us to continue to afford for Greg to go to the centers that he needs to, because it does get extremely expensive. Some of the donations we've had are running out so that's why we're hosting a benefit."

Gregory's Fundraiser Event is set to take place at Buffalo Riverworks on Sunday, August 22.

The event runs from noon to 5 p.m.

Pre-sale tickets are $25, and $30 at the door.

To follow Gregory's journey to recovery, click here.