Lynchburg, VA - Doctors say a Lynchburg man, injured while serving in Afghanistan, may never walk again. His injury happened less than two weeks ago. According to his parents, Army Staff Sergeant Kareem Francis was shot multiple times. He is now back in the U.S., at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Maryland. He is improving; now in stable condition, and fighting every day for strength.
"I can't believe the condition he's in now. He's always been such a strong strong person. Always physically strong, mentally strong. You look at him here, you look at him now, it's night and day," said father Ricky Theodore. "The worst nightmare of any parent. No parents want to go through that."
Reality is sinking in for father Ricky Theodore.
"I just broke down crying. I wasn't crying loud, but I was crying. I can't tell you the last time I cried," said Theodore.
Five months into his first tour in Afghanistan, his son, Staff Sergeant Kareem Francis, 28, was gunned down.
"There's still bullets in him," said Theodore.
Crews flew Kareem to Germany, and finally to Maryland where he learned he is paralyzed from the waist down.
"We don't care what kind of state he's in. We're going to take care of him. If we have to feed him, if we have to clean him, we'll do it. We just asked him to be alive and that's what God granted us," said Theodore.
Theodore shared stories about Kareem in his old bedroom. The room is a shrine, wall-papered with Heritage High School memorabilia.
"He was in football and track at Heritage High School," said Theodore.
He won two first place state championships: one for football and one for track.
Family, including his high school sweetheart and fiance are by his bedside, confident, this too, shall pass.
"He promised me he's going to walk again and I know he is," said Theodore. "He's going to be back. He's going to be back. I promise you all that."
Kareem's father says there is still a lot of information that has not been released, like how it all happened. He says he will be briefed in the coming weeks. Kareem has a few more surgeries on his back and then will be transferred Hunter Holmes McGuire Medical Center for spine therapy. He is a graduate of Ferrum College.