POWHATAN COUNTY, Va. - In the pool is where Eli Tiller says he feels most comfortable these days. The 15-year old uses a wheelchair to get around, but not in the pool, where he walks with the help from the water and his instructor Andrea Tobin.
"It was a miracle that God healed me," said Tiller.
Twelve years ago, when he was just three-years-old, Eli pushed through a protective window on the second floor of his family's Powhatan home. He fell head-first to the driveway below. His mother, Tricia Tiller, found him there.
"I couldn't tell when I found him whether or not he was alive," said Tricia Tiller. "It seemed very dark. I was just praying and crying when I was on the phone with 9-1-1. "
Eli doesn't remember much from his accident. Over the years, he has had surgeries and setbacks, but the past month has brought one of his greatest successes. He's been taking swimming lessons at the Powhatan YMCA with Tobin.
"I didn't know I would be able to do so well," said Tiller.
"Day one, he didn't want to go underwater. He was hesitant to put his lips in and blow bubbles," said Tobin, "Now, I can barely keep up with him! He's sprinting across the pool!"
Tricia Tiller said her son still suffers from the injuries he suffered more than a decade ago. Eli's muscles get very stiff, but the pool has provided a respite from the pain.
"I'm much, much looser. I can tell you that," Eli said.
The 15-year old hopes to swim in the water by himself one day. This weekend, his family is even taking him surfing at Virginia Beach with a company that has special equipment that accounts for his disabilities.
Eli's journey has been tough, his mother said; however, seeing him pick up swimming so quickly leaves her, and Eil, looking towards future goals.
"We want for him to be able to walk again," said Tricia Tiller. "As long as there is hope that he can get back to that point, we got to fight for it."