The biggest challenge, these days, for Dakota Sullivan is rehabilitating his badly broken right arm.
"Good job," his occupational therapist, Brenna Christiansen says. "Way to sit up tall."
That's not bad when you consider the list of challenges he faced a month ago.
"He gets a little better everyday. Little baby steps," Cheryl Benjamin, Dakota's mother says.
On April 28, Dakota was riding a four-wheeler on his grandparents' farm near Pierz.
His 13-year-old relative Curtis Boser was riding his dirt bike behind Dakota. He stopped to look at something, then came up over a hill and saw Dakota and his four-wheeler flying through the air and landing. Curtis doesn't know what triggered the accident, but he knew his buddy was in trouble.
"He stopped breathing twice, so then I had to give him CPR twice," says Curtis, who learned CPR during his ATV and snowmobile training classes.
That kept Dakota alive, barely.
He was airlifted to North Memorial Medical Center in Robbinsdale. When his family arrived, they saw tubes and wires. Dakota was in a coma.
"We didn't know if he'd ever come out of the coma. He was just laying there lifeless," his mom says.
"You didn't know if he could hear you, if he could feel you."
And that's the way it was for two weeks, until the day before Mother's Day.
"And he looked at me and he said, 'Mom.' And that was probably the best Mother's Day gift I could've ever gotten."
Dakota is now rebuilding his body at Gillette Children's Specialty Care in St. Paul. His left side is weak because of brain trauma to his right side.
Dakota wasn't wearing a helmet at the time of the accident.
"Lesson one is to make sure the kids where helmets when they're on their four-wheeler," Benjamin says.
Thankfully, Curtis was there to make sure the lesson wasn't a fatal one.
"Oh, he's my hero," Benjamin says. "We call him our little hero."
"Yeah, I don't like when they say that," Curtis says in response.
It's a bit overwhelming for him.
But when Dakota's mom sees how far her son has come, the word "hero" seems like an understatement.
"Every day's a little miracle," she says.
Dakota does not remember the accident or the two hours leading up to it.
He hopes to leave St. Paul in about three weeks and return home to Pierz.
(Copyright 2007 by KARE. All Rights Reserved.)