RICHMOND, Va. -- Samar Lemons' most difficult test has become his testimony. His story of recovery after a serious football injury a year ago is one he hopes will inspire others.
Lemons, a former Henrico High School football player, fractured his neck during a game. At one point during his hospital stay, he was on a ventilator.
His recovery began in a rehab center in Atlanta where he worked hard with physical therapists to be able to come home last July. Since then, the work hasn't stopped.
Samar meets up with a trainer three to four times a week for some grueling sessions, determined to make progress. He said he is proud of what he's accomplished so far.
"I'm moving my legs. I'm moving my core more. I'm moving my arms now. I can stand up longer than what I was. My blood pressure is getting better, definitely my attitude, my mindset is getting better," Lemons said.
Samar experienced some dark moments but said that his family, friends and his faith kept him in the light.
"I think faith is everything. If you ain't got no faith, I don't think you're gonna get far. If you ain't in the right mindset with God, I mean, you can try but I don't think you'll get far at all," Lemons said.
Samar is grateful that his faith continues to lift him. An outpouring of support from the community has also helped him immensely.
His community rallied around him with a GoFundMe, visits from teammates, friends and family and even a show of support from a group of volunteers at Project Homes and he and his father had to move into another home.
"I've got my own bedroom now. Nice home, nice neighborhood. I can move freely in my own house," Lemons said.
It has been a year filled with acts of love from strangers that Samar and his parents will never forget.
"I was overwhelmed. Oh my God, I wasn't expecting that many people to come out and build a ramp for me. In three or four hours, they built the ramp for me," Lemons said.
"I thank everybody. I thank the public, each parent, every student, everybody who donated," Dana Armstead-Guy, Samar's mom, said.
"I'm pretty much covered in love. I can't escape it and I don't want to escape it!" Lemons said. "I just want to thank everybody. Just thank you! Lots of thank yous!"
In the future, Samar plans to volunteer as a motivational speaker, hoping to encourage and help others who are living with a disability.