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‘I’m better today than before my accident,’ says Dinwiddie hero

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Posted at 4:09 PM, Jul 07, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-07 18:23:47-04

RICHMOND, Va. – Tim Vass is preparing to take a run on this hot summer, July day.

But the 24-year-old shouldn't be stretching or walking and he certainly should not be running.

In fact, Tim shouldn't alive.

Six years ago, at age 18 on May 15, 2010, Tim's life was altered forever.

“I’ve been riding dirt bikes since I was like 10 years old,” says Tim.

Tim Vass

Tim Vass

At a track in Dinwiddie, Tim crashed his dirt bike. It was the day of his high school prom.

“I hit a bad spot and started flipping end over end,” Tim says. “It was horrific.”

Tim sustained a severe brain injury and spent 44 days in the hospital.

“I was in a coma for the first six days; I was very rough shape,” Tim says.

Tim's mother, Donna Maitland, says her son’s future looked bleak.

“We got the phone call that he was unresponsive and that he was bleeding through his ears, nose and mouth,” she recollects.  “It seemed like forever to know if he was still alive.”

Tim was back at square one.

“I had to learn to eat, sleep, walk, talk, breathe,” he says.

But, with an inner drive and support from his loving family Tim would turn a corner.

“I couldn’t wait to hear him call me mom again,” says Donna. “It is amazing.”

Tim would muster the strength and receive his high school diploma from Dinwiddie High School.

“My first thought was okay, one thing off the check list,” Tim says.

What is next, Tim says, is “to make dreams come true.”

Despite being legally blind and losing some of his hearing, taste and smell, Tim would pursue a higher education at Richard Bland College.

“You can’t move forward to tomorrow by looking at yesterday,” says Tim.

Advisor Dr. Evanda Watts-Martinez says Tim inspired other students and faculty.

“I am extremely proud of Tim Vass. Simply because he did not give up,” Watts-Martinez says.

“He is not thinking of his limitations,” she says. “Immediately he is coming from a place of strength.”

At Richard Bland Tim shined academically, and he even made the track team.

“You hear people that wake up in the morning and say ‘my hair is a wreck’ and they says ‘this is the worst day in the world.’”

tim vass

“It can be so much worse,” Watts-Martinez says.

“Your life could be a wreck. It is just your hair. You can fix it,’” Tim says.

Two years ago Tim enrolled at Longwood University.

This spring he earned a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and a minor in Health Education.

“I was as happy as could be. It was just the biggest sense of accomplishment,” Tim says.

Family and friends will never doubt him.

“Whenever I am having a bad day I call him for therapy,” says Tim’s mother, Donna.

“He tells me it’s going to be fine and it always is,” says Tim’s mother, Donna.

Tim promises to overcome any obstacle with a smile, all while counting his blessings -- on  the track of life.

“I just want people to know I can do it. Have belief in me,” says Tim. “

“I’m better today than before my accident,” says Tim. “I’m better today than I was yesterday.”

Tim is currently looking for a position in the fitness industry.

If you know someone who you would like to nominate for my “Heroes Among Us” segment e-mail me at Heroes@wtvr.com.