BOSTON (CBS) – A beloved educator is back home in Westford, a house now completely renovated by volunteers to make it wheelchair accessible. Kevin LaCoste was paralyzed in a freak accident last summer when he fell out of a tree while playing with his children.
LaCoste, an elementary school principal, spoke to WBZ-TV on Tuesday about his recovery, his gratitude and the long road ahead.
“I wake up each and every day, living a new life that I never thought I would be living,” he said.
In July, LaCoste was playing with his children when he thought it would be fun to hide from them by climbing a tree in his Westford front yard.
“I decided to make one more reach for the limb above me and slipped and fell,” he recalled.
LaCoste’s spinal cord injury means he’s paralyzed below the chest.
“I have feeling in my head and my neck and my shoulders and my back,” LaCoste said.
He’s also recovered a small amount of sensation in his upper arms.
“Which provides some hope that over the course of the next several years those movements will come back,” he says.
As soon as people learned about LaCoste’s devastating injury, they stepped up. Hundreds of volunteers renovated the family’s home so Kevin could navigate it in his wheelchair.
Friends and even strangers donated money and materials, and they did it all in just four weeks.
“It just lets me know that there’s so much kindness that exists out there. I’m so grateful to be here,” he said.
Web Extra: Full Interview With Kevin LaCoste
And the tree? It’s still there, too.
“One of the first trips I made when I got home was to the tree, to make peace with it,” LaCoste said. “We still talk about the accident because we think that’s healthy. There’s a sign that hangs above our bed that says ‘You and me, we got this.’ And I think we use that as a mantra to stay positive. That said, we certainly have our moments when we have tough days.”
Ali Lacoste, Kevin’s wife, has taken a leave from her teaching job to care for Kevin. Now they begin to travel a long and uncertain road.
“I still get to wake up and I get to see my wife lying next to me, and I get to see my children each and every day. I’m me. Nothing’s changed except I have some wheels that need to help me get around,” Kevin said.
LaCoste says he decided to speak out so he could tell people how thankful he is for all the help and support he and his family have received. He hopes to return to his principal’s job at the Robinson school one day, and to spread awareness about spinal cord injuries.