'I have been praying for this since I was 8-years-old'

By  | 

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT News) -- One East Tennessee man walked for the first time in 27 years at a local gym.

Thomas took his first steps at Gold's Gym in Farragut./ Source: WVLT News

Thomas McNeily was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy at 5-years-old and by age 10 doctors told him he may never walk again. Since then McNeily had been using a wheelchair to get around.

"When I felt pain, I knew the wheelchair was there, so I relied on the wheelchair," said McNeily. "Months turned into years and the rest is history."

McNeily joined Gold's Gym in Farragut back in 2016 with hopes to get in shape. During his visits to the gym, he made friends with everyone he came in contact with there including former Gold's Gym personal trainer Frederic Leyd.

After training with Leyd for months, Thomas took his first steps at the gym. After mastering walking with crutches, staff and friends at the gym came together and gifted Neily with a special walker called a Life Glider.

"I had the skill and the expertise to help him, but the most important was the support he had between his mother, his church and the people around him," said Leyd. "People have been wonderful."

Leyd said he helps others with disabilities because of his own journey. He broke his back as a teenager and was able to rehabilitate himself by working out. Leyd now works for another gym but continues to make a difference in the lives of those that need it most.

McNeily goes to Gold's Gym faithfully six days a week. He said he commits to four hours of exercise each time go goes.

Copyright 2019 WVLT. All rights reserved.