Kevin Everett: 'He Is a Tiger'

"He was able to gently, against gravity, pull his thighs together on command," said Cappuccino. "Well, certainly, I was incredibly excited."

Still, Cappuccino was cautious when asked in a news conference later that day whether Everett would ever walk again.

"I have to tell you that the chances of that occurring are very small," he said.

After Everett's first subtle movement, his body temperature began to rise and Cappuccino gambled again. He used a cooling machine to lower Everett's body temperature in a controversial technique known as moderate hypothermia.

"Dr. Cappuccino wanted to cool him for spinal cord protection. I wanted to cool him for neurological protection from a fever, because fevers are devastating for patients with neurological injury," said Gibbons.

The next morning Everett was moving not only his thighs, but his feet, his toes and his arms. And suddenly, his prognosis changed dramatically.

"If you ask me 'will he walk again,' I would say, 'I wouldn't bet against it,'" Gibbons said at a Sept. 12 news conference.

But was it the cooling, the surgery or the steroids that gave Everett the chance to recover? Or was it the swift response of the Bills' medical team? Opinions differ, but no one can say for sure.

"People can say that I overstepped my bounds," Cappuccino said. "They can call it human experimentation. I want them to talk to Kevin Everett, and if Kevin Everett is unhappy with the job I've done for him, then I'll feel bad."

Everett points out that very few thought he would recover as quickly as he has.

"He promised me that he would do anything and everything that he could possible, to make sure that everything worked out," Everett said. "Nobody thought I would be recovering like this."

Milestones

Less than two weeks after his injury, Everett was flown to a rehab facility called Memorial Hermann TIRR, the Institute for Rehabilitation and Research, in Houston.

"When he arrived in our facility he was actually moving his legs, barely moving his arms, couldn't even take care of himself," said Dr. Teodoro Castillo, the co-director of the spinal cord program at TIRR.

"The first couple of weeks he would sit in darkness in his hospital bedroom," Rafferty Laredo, the manager of occupational therapy at TIRR, recalled. "I think it was extremely discouraging for him to know what he was like before, and at this point not able to do anything."

But he's made progress since those first weeks.

"The rest of this story is about Kevin Everett and the warrior that he is and his mom and his fiancee not giving him one ounce of slack," Cappuccino said. "I have never seen one come this far, this fast."

And the milestones kept coming.

"He couldn't move his arms or legs at all, and I'd look at the weight that he is picking up now — it is a huge difference," said Laredo.

With his family looking on, Everett took his first steps at TIRR exactly one month after that terrifying collision in Buffalo.

"I was so proud of him. I was laughing and crying at the same time," Dugas said. "He's a tiger, you know, he's strong. His inner strength … they can't tell Kevin what he can't do."

Dugas said the very best day was when she got her first hug from her son. "I'd been waiting on that like a buzzard," she said. "It wasn't a strong hug, but it was good enough for me."

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