SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - Students across KELOLAND are getting ready for school, but for one Sioux Falls senior, returning to class isn't an option.
Malik Paulson is a football player and senior at Washington High School. He's been in the hospital since August 2, when he dove into the water and fractured his C4 in his upper spine.
Linda Paulson has barely left the hospital since her son was hurt in a diving accident.
"This last week was really tough. In the beginning, he was sedated; sleeping for days. Then he had started to get better. Then he got pneumonia, and then he got worse," Paulson said.
While Malik is doing better this week, he has a breathing tube, which Paulson says will hopefully be removed on Monday.
"Our next step is the tracheotomy, getting the breathing tube out. Once he is stable from that, we will move onto rehab at a spinal specialty rehab center," Paulson said.
No matter how bad things may seem, Malik's mom, sisters and godmother are keeping a positive attitude.
"Right now, he still doesn't have any feeling from his chest down. The doctors are saying he may never walk again. We're not really accepting that. We're keeping the faith; we're keeping that every story is different," Paulson said.
Since the accident, Malik's godmother Melissa Rogers started a GoFundMe for the family to help with medical expenses and help his mom, who doesn't have a reliable car.
"Even see that other people care to reach out, it really means a lot," Rogers said.
Every gift and every visit mean a lot to the family and especially Malik.
"He wants everybody to know that he is strong and that he is fighting and not giving up and that he loves everyone for showing their support for him," Paulson said.
There will also be a fundraiser for him on Thursday at the Pizza Ranch on 41st Street in Sioux Falls from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. along with a fundraiser at the Barrel House on September 24.