ATLANTA - Ignacio Montoya was just three months away from realizing his dream of becoming an Air Force pilot when he was struck along Pleasant Hill Road while riding his motorcyle.
Montoya goes through rehab on a daily basis. The Cuban immigrant has limited use of one arm and is confined to a wheelchair.
Doctors give him a 1 percent chance of ever walking again.
“His spinal cord is basically severed, so it's very unlikely for him to make a full recovery,” said Dr. Tobias Musser from the Shepherd Center.
Montoya told Channel 2’s Tony Thomas he still hopes to walk again.
“It's not impossible, it's not zero, so I'm doing everything I possibly can,” Montoya said.
Montoya has always faced stiff odds, from getting out of Cuba to pursuing his dream of becoming an Air Force pilot.
He spent four years in the Air Force Reserves while co-enrolled at Georgia State and Georgia Tech.
In December 2012, Montoya was just three months from being commissioned and heading to flight school when he was hit.
He believes since he'd put four years in, the Veterans Administration should cover his medical treatment.
The government said until his commissioning, he has no benefits.
“I am by no means asking for a pension. I’m not asking for money, I just want to receive help and the therapy I need to walk,” Montoya told Thomas.
Without the benefits, Montoya is trying to raise money any way he can for rehab. Thomas followed him into a gym, where with the help of a machine, he stood and exercised.
“Any chance I get to not be 3-feet-tall in a wheelchair, not rolling around, is amazing,” Montoya said. “Walking is 99 percent of what I want to do in my life.”
Montoya said he hopes stem cell research and other medical advances will one day allow him to actually walk and possibly get back up in the air as well.
If you would like to help Montoya with his recovery, his contact information is below: