Altavista, VA - This year alone, the West Nile Virus has killed more than 160 Americans.
This debilitating disease begins by attacking parts of the brain. It can get so severe that those infected lose complete control of their muscle function. That's what happened to one man living in Altavista.
His doctors say it's a miracle he's even alive. It's a story of hope and inspiration- one of sheer survival.
It was just over a year ago that Mike Goldsmith couldn't even lift a finger, and now, "It's one of the few pieces of equipment that can actually get me on my feet," he said as he was being raised to his feet.
With the help of big motorized machines, Mike Goldsmith now stands on his own two feet.
When asked if he had been able to do that a couple of months ago, he replied:
"With this piece of equipment, the best they could do, was lift me out of a bed, and put me in a wheelchair. Or lift me out of a wheelchair, to put me on another piece of equipment."
September 2011, Goldsmith was coming home from work as an administrator in the Baltimore County Public Schools. It was then that his life would change forever.
"I remember getting into the ambulance, and a couple of neighbors walked by. That's about the time that whole time frame stopped in time for me. I don't remember," he said. "I don't remember going to the hospital. I don't remember the first couple of months of what was going on."
He would later be diagnosed with West Nile encephalitis.
"It's the most severe. It's a miracle that Michael's here, and it's certainly a miracle that he's alive," said Goldsmith's Physical Therapist Dr. Mike Treacy.
He can't remember the particular mosquito bite that left him nearly paralyzed.
Goldsmith began his treatment in Baltimore. For months, he didn't leave his bed and his symptoms didn't improve.
"He's gone from pretty much being on his back, to sitting up in a wheelchair, feed himself, breathe," said Treacy.
With the help of family and friends, Goldsmith discovered the will to live.
"I'm on a journey. I know when it started, but I don't know where it's going to end," he said.
Every day, the 68-year-old endures hours of rehabilitation, with a team of therapists.
He says his goal, is a simple one, "I want my life back. I want my life back. I want to be able to do what most people can do," he said.
Goldsmith improves every day. His little victories, simply being able to brush his teeth, and feed himself, give him the optimism he says he needs to continue this journey.
And he has an incredible support system. A bus of 25 friends from Baltimore will be visiting him in November.