Thanksgiving was a celebration indeed for South Bend BMX star Brett Banasiewicz.
Three months ago, the 18-year-old Washington high schooler was practicing a routine trick before a competition in Virginia, when his tire caught on something and sent him falling eight feet to the ground. He landed on his head.
It's been a long road back for Brett, but he and his family have a lot to be thankful for.
Banasiewicz walked out of the rehab center in Atlanta and headed home for the first time since the accident that placed him in a medically induced coma and caused a traumatic brain injury.
The walking part was important.
"He set three goals when he was there," said his mother, Lisa Banasiewicz. "To leave the feeding tube behind, the wheelchair behind, and get (his) voice back. And he accomplished all three of them in record time."
Brett's time back home for Thanksgiving was something his mother has been looking forward to for what felt like forever.
"It was a miracle," she said. "We were very thankful.
"He's very sweet, very happy. Very hungry! And kept saying, 'oh, my, yum!" And I loves it. I was like, eat, eat!"
Brett's feeding tube was taken out a week ago, and he's already gained back 20 of the 46 pounds he lost after the accident. His speech and balance continue to improve. Doctors expect a full recovery -- eventually.
"It's been very hard, but it's actually been very exciting," Lisa said. "When he won the Mountain Dew (Tour), we hollered and we clapped. But about three weeks ago, they sent me a video, and he said, 'Hi mom.' And I cried for an hour. That's been way more exciting than any podium."
Brett will be home for a couple more days, and then will head to Dallas for several months of rehab at a special center for athletes.
"See, we want Brett to have his life back," Lisa said. "Not only walking, talking, being an 18-year-old young man, but he's a professional athlete. He's told us that he wants to be back on his bike."
"He was finding stuff to take back down to Dallas with him, and he decided to grab his samurai sword and strap it to his belt loop," said longtime friend Chris Chamberlain, who spent Thanksgiving with Brett.
"I said, 'point out whatever you want to take to Dallas, and we can take it," added another friend, Tyler Nowicki. "And he sticks his finger right into my gut. It was just a great feeling."
"I'm so proud of him, because he's so strong," Lisa said. "It's overwhelming and it's great. And we're just really thankful."
As you can imagine, the medical bills associated with Brett's recovery have been astronomical. If you want to help, the Banasiewicz family encourages you to make a donation to athleterecoveryfund.com.