Chris Smith: 16 months after accident, Analy High graduate Carson Pforsich 'progressing day by day'

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Look who’s zipping around a school track at four minutes per lap.

“Things are good,” said Carson Pforsich, who was an athlete at Sebastopol’s Analy High until he injured his neck and spinal cord in a dive into the ocean at Bodega Bay in September of 2017. “I’m working on progressing day by day.”

Carson celebrated his 19th birthday a week ago. He also celebrates each time he trims the time it takes him to propel himself in his manual wheelchair around the track at Twin Hills Middle School.

Since he received stem-cell treatment in Thailand last fall, he’s worked hard, at the gym and track, to strengthen his core and arms.

Though he still can’t walk and has little use of his fingers, he has developed the arm strength, balance and endurance to power himself fast and long with his palms on the wheels of his chair.

He said that as recently as a couple of months ago, “I couldn’t do a full lap without having to stop and take a rest.” And he had trouble controlling and stopping the chair.

Today he’s pushing himself clear around the track in a bit under four minutes.

He expects that the stem-cell therapy will allow him, with work, to reclaim much more of his mobility and strength. “I’m still relatively early in the process,” he said.

Carson works out at a gym six days a week, and exercises more at home. The 2018 Analy grad plans to enroll in classes at Santa Rosa Junior College in fall.

He’s thankful for much.

He’s said, “It’s just amazing how much support I’ve received from everybody.”

GOT A TRUCK? A big one, with a lift? Boy, would Kevin O’Connell love to talk with you.

O’Connell lives in Guerneville and restores Airstream trailers. But the stepson of late bodybuilder and “Mr. America” Jimmie Payne has never been far from the weightlifting and health-club business.

O’Connell has in his possession the professional gym equipment removed from a former club in Oakland. He thought to offer it for free to the athletics department of Paradise High School, which wasn’t burned by the Camp fire but even so isn’t deemed safe.

O’Connell said the school’s football coach would love to have the gym equipment at the temporary campus. But how to get the gear there?

O’Connell needs someone willing to provide a large truck with a lift. He’s reachable at 707-865-2077 and

FOR THE TROOPS: Healdsburg has done it again.

Rallied by the unstoppable Mary St. Clair, a boisterous team of greater Healdsburg folks last Thursday night filled for shipment to deployed U.S. Army Special Forces soldiers more than 250 of what might be the best care packages the world has ever seen.

The crew there in the gym at St. John the Baptist Catholic School placed in the cartons hand-written Valentines notes and locally, lovingly made granola, fig almond bars, dried fruit, knit caps and also socks, personal hygiene and comfort items, candy, playing cards, kettle corn, word games, and food-enhancing spices.

Once again, local members of Vietnam Veterans of America will pay to ship the packages overseas.

It takes a village. And Healdsburg remains a village.

You can contact columnist Chris Smith at 707 521-5211 and

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