After a Massachusetts lifeguard took a long break from college due to a diving accident that left him paralyzed, his university surprised him with a diploma in a touching moment captured on video.
Nick Malafronte was paralyzed at a local pool seven years ago while on summer break from Westfield State University. Due to his injury and therapy schedule, he had to drop out.
Five years later, as he settled into his new life, he enrolled at Southern New Hampshire University to study online and finish his degree.
“It doesn’t surprise me because I never expected anything different from him. It’s just the way he is,” Nick’s mom, Diane Malafronte, said. “When he got hurt, his brothers all sat crying and he was like, ‘Don’t be sad, I am going to be fine.’ And that’s how he was.”
When Nick finally finished his studies last month, his family wanted to do something to honor his hard work so they reached out to SNHU to see if they could personally deliver his diploma.
The school brought their SNHU bus out of “retirement” just for the occasion.
In front of friends and family, they presented Nick with his diploma. He also received a jersey from the Boston Celtics, his favorite team, with his name on it.
“I am not very speechless very often. I am very overwhelmed right now,” Nick said of the surprise. “I shouldn’t get this much praise for graduating, but I appreciate it and I love it.”
Nick has continued to remain positive and now coaches a local hockey team.
“He is living a regular life the best he can with the help of all his friends and family,” Nick’s dad, Vic Malafronte, said.