MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A South Florida quadriplegic who gained national fame by using an exoskeleton to help walk across the stage at his college graduation at FIU, was given the keys to a donated wheelchair accessible van Friday.
Aldo Amenta was all smiles and feeling a little overwhelmed when he was given the keys to the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica at Palmetto 57 Nissan and Volkswagen.
“I am really overwhelmed by all of this. This is such a blessing. You guys have no idea what a small action can do. It doesn’t matter how big or how small. You cannot imagine what you can do for the life of someone else when you support them. You can change their world,” said Amenta. “So if you ever feel like helping someone, just do it. That small grain of sand you are putting there is changing their world.”
Amenta became a quadraplegic when he broke his neck diving into the shallow end of a swimming pool in 2015, right in the middle of his college career. He spent two weeks in a coma, suffered collapsed lungs due to an infection and experienced his heart stopping twice.
Amenta eventually graduated from Florida International University in December with a degree from the College of Engineering and Computing, and with a little help from that exoskeleton, he walked across the stage and received his diploma.
It was an achievement that caught the attention of people all over the country and at FIU, where officials became aware of his need for a wheelchair accessible van.
FIU reached out to Trustee Rogelio Tovar who worked with his team at Palmetto 57 to secure a van that would meet Amenta’s needs.
Friday, the van was donated to Amenta and his family.
WATCH AMENTA GET KEYS TO THE VAN
“I want to make one thing clear, we aren’t giving anything to Aldo,” said Rogelio Tovar. “Aldo is giving us the opportunity to invest in him and his future and that is what we are doing today. Aldo has put himself in this position due to his amazing perseverance and demeanor that shows he is special and shows he will accomplish great things in the future.”
Amenta is planning to get his Master’s degree at FIU and hopes to give back to the community for everything they have given him.
“This is going to change my life in so many ways,” Amenta said. “I believe it’s going to give me a lot of independence being able to develop and exceed in my professional life as well.”