Chardon Survivor Gets Gift of Independence

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CHARDON, Ohio -- A Chardon High School student left paralyzed from the waist down by a shooting earlier this year now has a new lease on life.

Survivor Nick Walczak said he has his freedom back after receiving a handicapped accessible car.

"This car has made me who I was before, it made me more independent.  It's just nice to know I don't have to rely on my mom or friends to drive me, it's a good feeling," said Walczak, a senior at Chardon High School.

Walczak was paralyzed after being shot on Feb. 27 after a classmate opened fire at Chardon High School, killing three students.

For a time, Walczak said he was depressed but now his new gift has uplifted his spirits and made him mobile. 

"I've also gained a lot more confidence in myself cause I'm not stuck at home.  If anything happens, my brother or my friends, if they are away from the house, I'd be able to help them," explained Walczak.

The "Healing Fund" bought Walczak the handicapped accessible 2012 Chrysler 300S.

The fund, which was established through United Way, also helps the Walczak family rent a wheelchair accessible van which was used very often before the new car was given to him.

Walczak said, "That means a lot to me.  I appreciate that people decided to donate."

Walczak spent most of his summer learning how to drive a car with hand controls, plus he had to pass his driver's test again, which he says made him nervous.

"I had to go for my driver's test.  It was really nerve-racking, like I'm 16 again," he said.

Now Walczak will be driving himself to school and he put a Chardon ribbon on the back of his new car with the date February 27th written on it to remind everyone about that tragic day.

It also honors his friends that were lost.

*Click here for extended coverage of the Chardon High School shooting…