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Injured Wrestler Reaches Lifetime Milestone

In 18 months, a Jacksonville teenager went from a hospital bed to his high school graduation and he does not plan to stop there.

In January of 2012, then 17-year-old Hugo Rubirosa invited WITN to visit him at Vidant Medical Center after a tragic wrestling accident in order to show his classmates and team members he was determined to recover.

Days after the accident at an away-match, Athletic Director Ron Holtsford said, "he was in the process of taking his opponent down... got a little off balance and the weight shifted from the normal lower part of his body to his upper shoulders and his head was moved about 90 degrees to the right, injuring the fourth and fifth vertebrae in his neck."

Rubirosa was paralyzed from the neck down for a day before he was able to move his arm and then had surgery.

Since that surgery in 2012, Rubirosa had been in and out of physical therapy while keeping up with school work.

On Wednesday, along with his fellow Cardinal classmates at Jacksonville High School, the teen graduated.

Rubirosa told WITN he is continuing to work toward the goal of walking unassisted and continuing his education.

Named one of the Children's Miracle Network's Miracle Teens in 2013, Rubirosa will be featured on boxes of a Kellogg's brand cereal, along with Eggo Homestyle Waffles and Cheez-Its.

The encouraging teen will be on hand at the Swansboro Food Lion on Thursday from 5 PM - 7 PM to sign some of those cereal boxes.


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