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Orcutt man defies odds, walks after biking accident left him paralyzed

An Orcutt resident is on the road to recovery after a mountain bike accident left him paralyzed.

Today Dennis Fidel is walking again — against all odds.

Last May he was mountain biking in the Orcutt Hills when he lost control of his bike.

“I was airborne and impacted the ground and as soon as I impacted my body went limp. At that point I suffered paralysis from my neck down,” said Fidel.

He was rushed to Cottage Hospital in Santa Barbara, where doctors told him he suffered a spinal injury.

“They couldn’t tell me if I was going to be able to walk or not again,” said Fidel.

His four children and wife rallied around him and then an unexpected connection took place.

“When I saw him I felt like, ‘Ok, this is going to be a process,’ but once I talked to him I said, ‘We can do this,'” said Custom Workouts owner and trainer Marc T. Gatson.

Gatson joined Fidel in his journey to recovery.

A friend told him about Fidel’s accident and his hopes to walk again.

“His motivation, his determination to get back to a normal life preceded what I saw,” said Gatson.

Gatson felt a connection to Fidel because his own mother had overcome being paralyzed from the neck down.

“And so when I look at him, it brought me back to, wow my mother is completely normal now from exercise, physical therapy and the right people around her,” said Gatson.

Fidel began walking just weeks after his accident, something doctors said was impossible.

“I decided that as soon as I saw some movement in my body I wasn’t going to let that defeat me, and I was going to walk out of rehabilitation and get my life together one way or another,” said Fidel.

Those that have seen his transformation in such a short time say it’s from his relentless determination.

“He motivates me on a daily basis. So not only am I doing something for him. He is also doing something for me in a way,” said Gatson.

Gatson and Fidel’s family have started fundraising efforts.

“In order for Dennis to get the training and physical therapy that we feel he needs, up to a year from today, it’s going to take about $12,000,” said Gatson.

To donate or find out about the next fundraising event in October, visit the Custom Workouts Facebook page.

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