Posted at: 03/18/2013 5:29 PM
Updated at: 03/18/2013 10:22 PM
By: Laurie Stribling
A Northland man is on a long road to recovery, and the community is banding together to help this April.
Paul Johnson and his mother, Rosemary, were shot back on December 22 at their home in Grand Rapids. Paul was hit in the face and Rosie was shot too. She died several days later, but Paul survived the attack.
"He is a fighter," Paul's father Gary Johnson said. "He's got the will to want to live and survive. The first week or two it looked dim and everything, but we had faith."
Initially, he was paralyzed on one side. Paul's jaw was also fractured and fluid was built up in his brain. Gary said he was worried his son would not live.
"Big time miracle no doubt about it," Gary said. "He came within an eyelash of not living, but he has survived it. He has a really good future ahead of him."
After four surgeries and about three months, Paul is making good progress at the Miller Dwan Rehabilitation Center at Essentia Health in Duluth.
"Today, he walked 350 feet, and that's a lot," Gary said.
Paul is now able to walk slowly. He can also fully understand things, but is learning how to speak again. The rehabilitation process will be long, but Paul has support from many friends and family members.
Paul's loved ones have put together a benefit to raise money for his medical costs.
"We're all just in it for Paul," Paul's friend Ryan Jensen said. "We know he would do the same thing for us."
Jensen said the benefit will be April 6 at the IRA Civic Center in Grand Rapids. The event is set to kick off at 3 p.m.
There will be a spaghetti feed, raffles and a silent auction. The food is being donated by Denny Maddens of Madden's Dutch Room.
If you can't make it to the event, you can also make financial donations in an account at the American Bank in Grand Rapids.
There is also a Facebook page with more information on how to help, to visit that site click here.
The shooter, William Payne, was sentenced to 52 years in prison this month.
As for Paul, he'll be moving back to Grand Rapids in a few weeks. He will be at an assisted living home there.