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Wayne County Athlete Battles Back From Disabling Virus

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DUDLEY, N.C. — A high-school student known for his athletic ability is fighting just to take a few steps.

The young man from Southern Wayne High School is determined not only to walk, but also get back in a game.

As a standout player, Mikey Olliver's picture appeared in the local paper several times last season.

This season, a rare virus called

transverse myelitis

pulled him off the court.

"My right leg went out first," Olliver said. "Then my left leg started going out a little bit."

By the time he got to the hospital, Olliver was paralyzed from the waist down.

Olliver's father, who also is his basketball coach, spent the last two months cheering Mikey on in rehab.

"It is devastating to your mind because you are helpless," said Michael Olliver, Sr., Mikey's father.

On Sunday, the younger Olliver moved his big toe on his right foot for the first time since his ordeal started. He can stand up on his own with a walker, and doctors are confident he soon will walk again.

But for Mikey, taking just a few steps on his own is not enough. His goal is to be back on the court playing basketball by the end of the season.

"I can't stand to stay out anymore," he said.

Mikey's long-term goals include finishing his high-school career, then going on to play college and professional basketball.

His father is thrilled to see his son just taking steps.

"If God wills (playing again) to happen, that would be great," Michael Olliver said. "But the main thing is for him just to be able to walk again."

Mikey said the family's strong faith is getting it through this time and also has taught him some valuable lessons.

"Never give up," he said. "Never take anything for granted."


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