CHICAGO (WLS) -- Ondelee Perteet was a high school swimmer with a radiant smile and a future of promise when a bullet fired at close range rendered him a quadriplegic 10 years ago.
Everything he'd once taken for granted suddenly seemed insurmountable. He was told to reasonably expect he would need a wheelchair for the rest of his life.
It took him months to relearn how to take a drink of water.
But since then, there have been triumphs.
He was able to return to high school and graduate, and his ability to walk short distances unassisted has been stunning.
He may have been robbed of mobility, but not determination.
Perteet is 25 now and physically stronger, but he still faces many limitations, including an inability to control bodily functions, difficulty sleeping and constant pain.
"There'll be a lot of days when I be in so much pain, I don't even want to get out of bed and stuff like that," Perteet said.
The young man who shot Perteet was an unwanted guest at a party in 2009. Told to leave, he came back with a gun. He's now in prison.
"I just got to make the best out of the situation, and I try to do that as much as I can every day because now it's a lot different because I've got a son now," Perteet said.
Perteet's son is 11 months old. The proud father figured he'd never be able to have a family, but now he and Ondelee Jr.'s mom, Tania, have a new hope and joy in their lives.
Perteet's mom has been her son's inspiration and, on occasion, his drill sergeant. She's optimistic, as Odelee Jr. gives her son a new reason to keep pushing and moving ahead.
"He look up to me," Perteet said. "So, when I look at him that's my motivation to keep moving, moving, keep progressing and just keep going."
The reality is there is a long, uncertain road ahead for Perteet. Job prospects remain elusive. Medical expenses are consuming. The very rough guess is the financial cost of what Perteet has been through is upwards of between $3 million and $4 million, most of it born by taxpayers. The human cost is immeasurable.
"We just going to have to keep working. Work with what we got," Perteet said. "You don't have any choice. That's it. We don't have any choice."
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