(Aug. 9, 2019) The life of Benjamin Paepcke, 19, of Baltimore, was changed forever on July 4, when he broke his neck at C5 and was left paralyzed after a diving accident in Ocean City. 

A little more than a month later, Paepcke has started a new journey toward recovery at Craig Hospital in Denver, Colorado. 

Before beginning his rehabilitation at Craig, Paepcke had been under the care of nurses and doctors at Baltimore Shock Trauma for almost a month. 

During this time, he has struggled with an onslaught of fevers, a bacterial infection and respiratory issues that required him to use a breathing tube for a few days.

Since the accident, he has lost 25 pounds. 

However, despite all of the struggles and uncertainty, Paepcke has surrounded himself with a strong group of friends, family and strangers who have aided him through fundraisers and simple companionship. 

In addition, although his days are filled with struggles, they are also filled with small victories. 

On July 11, Paepcke’s breathing tube was taken out following a tracheostomy surgery, allowing him to breathe on his own. 

“When he came [in to] his room he looked so beautiful,” his mother, Lillian Paepcke, said in an update. “He slowly started mouthing words to talk to us. A lot of happy faces in our room today…” 

On July 17, he was allowed to go outside of his room and the hospital for the first time. 

Paepcke passed his first swallow test on July 24, and since then he has been able to eat solid foods — his mother posted a photo of him eating a slice of pizza on the 25th.

His time in Baltimore ended on the 30th, and Paepcke and his mother left the friends they had made in shock trauma and headed to Denver to begin his rehabilitation. 

“Benj is doing pretty well with adjusting, but misses his Trauma Angels in pink [shock trauma nurses],” his mother said. 

Paepcke’s voice continues to grow stronger, and he has been practicing using a motorized wheel chair. 

In her latest update, Paepcke’s mother said doctors did some electrical stimulation physical therapy on Paepcke’s thighs, wrists and fingers and noticed muscle reactions. 

“Today was just an awesome day,” Paepcke’s mother said. 

Paepcke’s journey is one of constant challenges. He continues to suffer pain and has developed anxiety. 

Nonetheless, Paepcke and his mother firmly believe that through hard work and strong faith that he will do the impossible, and recover from his injuries. 

“Thank you for following Ben’s story,” Lillian said in her latest post. “Thank you for all of your love, prayers and support. God is good, blessing us with so many friends and family. God bless you all.” 

For more updates on Benjamin or to donate to his family, check out his GoFundMe page: 

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