Student paralyzed in shooting moves forward

September 28, 2010 (CHICAGO)

One year after suffering a gunshot wound that forever changed his life, Ondelee Perteet is showing the power of determination.

Over the past year, ABC7 has followed some of the many challenges faced by Ondelee and his family. The stories have been meant to illustrate the social and emotional cost of gun violence for the victim and beyond.

In the process, we have also found a young man who truly stands out.

It is his sophomore year at Orr Academy, and the immediate tasks for Ondelee involve Geometry, Biology and World History. Clearly there are other powerful long-term challenges, but this is a 16-year-old who could probably teach a class on the value of patience and perseverance.

"It's just such a joy to see him in the state of mind that he's in," said Ondelee's mother Detreena Perteet. "You would actually think that he would be somewhat feeling sorry for himself. That's not the case with Ondelee. That's not the case. He's very determined."

A year ago, after a bullet wound to the neck left him a quadriplegic, Ondelee began a life much different than the one he had come to know.

He had lost his ability to do those things we take for granted, but neither he nor his mom surrendered their desire to regain what was gone.

Today, Ondelee brushes his teeth, feeds himself, and won't allow himself to be governed by frustration.

"If I'm drinking something and I drop it, I get real frustrated, but I just keep trying," said Ondelee.

Seven months ago, using his left arm, Ondelee took a drink of water on his own for the first time since the shooting.

Ondelee says he can now lift his left arm.

"I can lift it up. I can get on the computer. I can stand up. I can brace my arm, you know, when I'm standing up," said Ondelee.

Standing up. Just a week ago, Ondelee said to his Mom, I'm tired of the chair. I want to stand. And using his left arm as a brace, he did.

"I was so amazed, and he kept doing it and me and the girls were sitting there like, 'Oh my God,' and I'm calling everybody like, 'God is good!'" said Detreena.

And so, the buckle is undone. The foot supports are moved, feet on the floor and using his left arm, Ondelee pushes himself up.

A year ago, a simple act seemed forever lost, but the determination shared by a young man and his mom who have a strong faith ought not to be underestimated.

"I came a long way from not being able to move my arms - with not being able to even move my neck - to moving my legs and standing up," said Ondelee. "I'm just glad I'm gonna have a second chance to walk again. Like I said: it's a new chance at life."

Ondelee knows there is a long, long journey ahead without promises or guarantees. Despite his progress, he still has very little movement on his right side, and the doctors have said consistently that he can reasonably expect to always need a wheelchair.

However, Ondelee and his mom also believe in the power of faith and determination.

Ondelee was shot allegedly by a young man who had been asked to leave a party.

That young man goes to court on Wednesday for another status hearing - the same day that Ondelee resumes his intensive rehab work.

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