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Since moving to the U.S. two years ago, Erwin Hernandez has become an honors student and worked 40-hour weeks to send money to his mother
While he was on the job at a restaurant in Stamford the day after Christmas, a car slammed into the restaurant, and Hernandez lost his leg
Four months later, he's gotten a prosthetic leg and is on track to graduate, thanks to the support of his community and high school
Four months after high school senior Erwin Hernandez lost his leg in a freak accident while working at a Stamford, Connecticut, restaurant, he's back at school full-time, on track for graduation, with a new prosthetic leg.
Hernandez was welcomed back to Stamford High School Thursday with a rock star entrance as they put together a fundraiser and rally to honor his accomplishments. Walking across the high school gym on his prosthetic leg, friends cheered him on as the mayor declared April 26 Erwin Hernandez Day.
"I just feel really thankful with everyone because the support and the help are really important for me," he said.
Hernandez first told News 4 New York his story from his hospital bed four months ago, just after he'd lost his right leg. A car had slammed into the restaurant where he was working, hitting him.
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Now, all the plans he made before he lost his leg -- prom, graduation, and eventually, college and law school -- are now doable, because he knows he has so many people in his corner lifting him up.
"Before I was feeling sad, but I think all the support all of the people are giving me is making me strong, and I know that I can do whatever I want," said Hernandez.
It hasn't been easy. Adjusting to the prosthetic leg has been painful, all while doing his school work, maintaining his status as an honors student and making it to appointments -- and all without his parents here to hold his hand. They still live in Guatemala.
"Now with the prosthetic, it's been hard and I feel sometimes I can't do this, but then I realize that I can," he said.
The teen who loves soccer has already proven he can persevere through hardship. Hernandez moved to the U.S. just two years ago, and in that time, he's learned English, gotten into the National Honor Society and worked 40-hour weeks to send money home to his mother. His teachers at Stamford High School have called him a dream student, and are in awe of how he's persevered since the accident.
"I see him everyday push through any kind of pain, give it extra effort to get here and be at school so he can stay on track to graduate," said teacher Kristi Lawson.
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"No matter what -- he could be in pain, he can be sad -- he still makes it out there, still makes everybody else happy. Still tries to do his best to recover as fast as possible," said friend Ashley Alfaro said.
Hernanez is confident he will continue to push through the pain and overcome any obstacle in his path.
"I learned that inside... I am really strong," he said.