ROSELLE PARK, NJ — The Roselle Park community has shown its support for 14-year-old Isaac Lima, a cheerleader for Central Jersey Allstars in Kenilworth, after he suffered an injury during a tumbling exercise that resulted in paralysis. Lima recently graduated from middle school; his family is hopeful that he will regain mobility and walk again.
Lima’s uncle, Petronio Romero, spoke of the incident and his nephew’s injury.
“Isaac has been participating in gymnastics since he was 7,” Romero said in an interview with Union County LocalSource on Wednesday, July 14. “He was accepted into CJA, Central Jersey Allstars, this year, to begin training and compete in cheerleading national meets with the academy. The accident occurred on Tuesday, June 29, at CJA. During regular practice, he fell during a tumbling trick and broke his neck. We arrived at the Newark University Hospital and the news was devastating. He was paralyzed from the neck down — tetraplegia, which has a 3 percent chance of walking or doing anything from the neck down — and had an incomplete spinal cord injury.”
Despite this devastating injury, there was some hopeful news for Lima. Thanks to a recent surgical procedure, there is a chance for him to become mobile again.
“After all surgery procedures were completed, the doctors were happy with the results,” Romero said. “I can only say, a miracle changed the outcome of Isaac’s life. His chances of walking were higher now by 50 percent. Isaac has shown endurance and strength, mentally, physically and in faith.
“During the last very hard days at the hospital, he has gained feeling in his arms and, most recently, felt when his toes were stimulated,” he continued. “He has also been able to laugh, pray and be himself. He has been a fun-loving person in these last few days after the injury, with the help of the uplifting, amazing messages on social media, the visits and prayers from others.”
Rallying behind Lima, the family has created a GoFundMe account. The Roselle Park community has jumped at the opportunity to support Lima during this ordeal. As of Friday, July 23, the account has garnered $67,335 of its $200,000 goal, with 693 donors and 1,700 social media shares.
Lima and his family had planned a camping trip for the Fourth of July, said Romero, but it never happened, adding that the family had its life course changed in a second. He said his nephew’s parents were dedicated to his care, even as the GoFundMe account was raising money for his immediate needs, home modifications, special equipment and for future physical therapy and medical care not covered by insurance.
“All of a sudden, so many people were and are interested in helping us out in any manner possible, along with many people we have never met, letting us know that ‘Everyone is in this together, Isaac,’” said Romero. “I created a photo frame on Facebook to add to his motivation and have been surprised that so many people have added it to their profile picture. I don’t think our family can ever thank everyone enough that has been helping us. What to say to all the contributions and shares on the GoFundMe account? A lot of the donations come from community children asking their parents to donate on their behalf. We can say we are blessed to live in a community that looks out for each other and have a young generation that is in solidarity with one another. There are many donations from people we have never met, many from the people we know and haven’t seen for a while, and others from friends and family who we know have been hit hard financially with COVID and from local businesses.
“We also want to thank everyone who personally has donated, churches that had Masses to pray for our family and have also contributed in many ways, and pastors who have visited him in the hospital,” he continued. “Other friends have cooked, where some have already signed up to help us adapt the house for when Isaac returns home. We believe and have faith it will be a temporary situation.”
According to Romero, the family is blessed to have witnessed the support Lima has received thus far and views Lima’s improvement as a miracle. He recently began rehabilitation.
“Isaac’s improvement is a miracle,” Romero said. “We believe every prayer is part of his improvement, so please keep praying. Today, our family is in need of support, but we hope that soon we can be the support, in case we are called upon. Right now, the family is supporting each other. We have our weak moments, but we hold on to those who are stronger. We take turns and we have faith. Isaac is a young athlete, nephew, son, uncle, brother, friend and child. He needs all the support he can get to win this battle, and he will. Isaac was transferred Tuesday, July 13, to the Children’s Specialized Hospital of New Brunswick for his rehab program.”
Romero said he wants Lima to know that he will overcome this and return stronger than ever. He also wanted to thank those who contributed to his nephew’s care.
“I want him to know we are and will be together with him on every obstacle he faces. Have faith in God, as miracles are already happening,” Romero said. “You will succeed and inspire others to come back stronger when faced with the hardest situation. We all love you so much. I’d also like to thank the first responders, the nurses and the doctors at the Newark University Hospital.”
Esther Rocha Martins, a longtime friend of Lima, said she believes he will be able to walk again.
“(Isaac) has been one of my best friends for many years,” Martins said on Wednesday, July 14. “We’ve known each other for many years. We’ve known each other ever since we were born, and our parents have been friends for more than almost 20 years at least.
“When I heard about Isaac, at first I couldn’t believe it, because I didn’t really believe something like this could happen to a really good friend,” she continued. “But I was actually really shocked at first. Then I became really sad as a friend. I was able to visit him at the hospital a couple of times and we hung out over there. I was happy that I made him laugh a little, and it was very fun to be able to see him again.
“I want him to know that God is with him and that he will be able to walk again,” said Martins. “If he really believes he can, he will be able to walk again. I want him to know to never give up, because good things and miracles always happen.”
Patty Ann Romero, owner, founder and head coach of Central Jersey Allstars and no relation to Petronio Romero, has said in a written statement that CJA is in support of Lima during this time.
“At this time, everything has been forwarded to our insurance company,” Romero said on Wednesday, July 14. “Isaac is a great kid, and we are praying and supporting him through his recovery. We can’t wait to see him again.”
To contribute to the fund for Lima, visit here.
Photos Courtesy of Petronio Romero