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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – A Woodward High School senior walked out of the hospital on his own two feet, after suffering from a spinal cord injury at football practice.

“I told you, I was walking out of here no matter what,” said Dakota Samarco. “Just walking out of here just makes my day way much better, because I achieved my goal.“

Dakota Samarco walking out of the hospital. Image courtesy Dennis Samarco.

On August 12th, Samarco was doing drills at practice on the first day of full pads.

“Oh, you know me, playing football. Got hit, at practice, and then didn’t say nothin’ to anyone about it when I got a sharp pain in my neck. Then got hit again, and it was done,” said the 18-year-old Samarco.

“We had an EMSA on site within, probably 3 to 4 minutes,” said David Dunlap, the Assistant Athletic Director for Woodward Public Schools. “They made the call to bring in LifeFlight to bypass the local hospital and bring them to a specialist here.”

Dakota Samarco. Image courtesy Dennis Samarco.

Samarco had suffered from a herniated disc.

“They had to go in and replace the disc and then fused his C2 through T2 vertebrae together,” said Samarco’s father Dennis. “[That’s] about from the base of your skull to the bottom of your shoulders.”

At first, doctors and his family were worried he’d never walk again. But Samarco was determined.

“The first week when I was hurting so bad, I didn’t want to get out of bed, but they made me. Thank you for that,” Samarco said while nodding to his nurses nearby. “It sucked, but I had fun. I gave everyone here crap. Made them all laugh, I hope.”

“He’s been pushing them harder and harder to work him harder every day so he could achieve his goal of walking out of here,” said Dennis.

Dakota Samarco’s injury. Image courtesy Dennis Samarco.

For the next couple of months, Dakota’s neck brace will stay on until he gets the green light from his doctors. Other than some morning back pain, Samarco said he feels fine.

Tuesday, there was just one thing on his mind.

“My dog. As long as I get to go home, see my dog, lay in my bed. Then, I guess, [seeing] friends later on,” said Samarco. “As long as I get to see my dog everything will be fine.”

Dakota Samarco and his dog. Image courtesy Dennis Samarco.

Dennis said his son will return to school on Monday to start his senior year. While his time on the football field may be over, he’ll be cheering his team on from the sidelines.