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Former firefighter paralyzed after accident receives custom pool

Derek Avilez paralyzed 5 years ago in skim boarding accident on Hollywood Beach

DAVIE, Fla. – A former South Florida firefighter is about to get back into the water after volunteers built him a new pool at his home in Davie.

Derek Avilez was paralyzed five years ago after he injured his spinal cord while skim boarding on Hollywood Beach.

"The past 4 1/2 years have been a roller coaster, but it has been blessing, after blessing, after blessing," Avilez told Local 10 News.  

Before his injury, Avilez was a firefighter and paramedic. He's used to being physically active, and the new custom pool will now allow him to do just that, while spending quality time with his family.

"Being able to get in there with my family and play with my kids at eye level -- it's huge," said Avilez.

The custom pool was built free of charge with the help of the Darrell Gwynn Foundation, Van Kirk and Sons Pools and former rapper Rob Van Winkle, better known as "Vanilla Ice."

ALSO: Vanilla Ice released from jail after arrest

"The pool is awesome, it's decorative and beautiful," said Van Winkle.

The pool has a long ramp that allows Avilez to slowly enter without worrying about steps.

"Getting this in my backyard, and to be able to go out there whenever I want and start running around in the water -- pretend like I'm running again, it's fun," said Avilez.  

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