Beating the odds: Fresno firefighter's journey to walk again after life-changing accident

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Mia Gonzalez' story doesn't start in her wheelchair.

"I was only given a 10 percent chance of walking, but if I settle for that, then I'll never know," said Gonzalez.

With her drive and determination, the 22-year-old is making sure it doesn't end there either.

The persistence she puts toward regaining movement in her legs was once used to realize her dream of becoming a firefighter.

After graduating from Central High Mia headed north to battle wildland fires with Cal Fire Butte County.

"It's a purpose and I just like giving back to the community," said Gonzalez.

After two years on the front lines, she was accepted to Fresno city's fire academy.

"And halfway through I had my accident," said Gonzalez.

Mia was just 20 when her life changed.

While parked at a rest stop on the way to Moro Rock Mia tried to avoid traffic coming around a bend when she fell more than 50 feet off the side of a cliff.

"I used my right hand to feel for my thighs and they were there," said Mia. "I just couldn't feel them so there was just a lot of pain a lot of frustration and a lot of thoughts crossed my mind at the very moment."

CHP flew Mia to Community Regional Medical Center where she learned she had a 10 percent chance if any to walk again.

"Really she could've chosen two paths to be discouraged or not," said Fresno Fire Chief Kerri Donis.

Despite her new challenges, Mia graduated from the fire academy top of her class.

As an honorary firefighter, Mia aids the investigation, prevention and training divisions and serves as a youth firesetter intervention specialist.

"Really couldn't ask for a better member of our team," said Chief Donis.

That team is helping her walk again, already a third of the way to their goal set on a GoFundMe page, loved ones are hoping to cover the cost of her training at SCI-FIT that specializes in Spinal Cord Injuries.

"I want to continue to grow and continue to be better, whether that's physically or mentally," said Mia.
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