Updated: 02/28/2014 3:49 PM KSTP.com By: Beth McDonough
It's a story of survival.
For the first time since a vicious beating last August, Ray Widstrand came out to a benefit in Maplewood Saturday.
At one point, doctors didn't think Widstrand would survive his injuries. But he's proving you can overcome a huge setback.
That's why everyone came to the fundraiser, to see Ray and surround him with support.
These days, Widstrand depends on a wheelchair to get around and a helmet to protect his head from more trauma. Still, he has a smile that warms your heart, and a story that breaks it.
One night in August, Widstrand was simply walking to his St. Paul home when he got caught in the middle of chaos, when a group of gang members ambushed him. Authorities have charged five people with nearly beating him to death.
"We're hoping they'll answer for their actions and not us answering for them," says his father Peter Widstrand.
At first, Ray couldn't remember why he looked the way he did, his family had to tell him. The attack was an act of cruelty, followed by so much kindness.
At the benefit, every hour brought more people. Whether a stranger or family friend, they felt compelled to come.
At the rehab facility where he's recovering, Widstrand gets speech and physical therapy.
At the benefit, Ray Widstrand is getting group therapy. The presence of all these people, proof that not all humans are inhumane.
Click here to see our interview with Ray Widstrand.