NORFOLK, Va. — For the first time in almost two years, Andy Wallach climbed up a small set of stairs at ODU Monarch Physical Therapy Clinic in Norfolk.
It’s a seemingly small accomplishment, unless you know what the Norfolk man has been through over the last year and nine months.
“Everything slowly gets better and keeps getting better,” said Wallach.
He and his wife Cynthia Faschini lived a fairy tale life, traveling and spending time together as often as possible.
The two retired Naval officers have been married for 33 years.
“You can ask anyone,” said Wallach. “She makes everyone feel good. She makes me feel good.”
But in 2019, their love and devotion would be put to the test following a near-fatal ATV accident while vacationing in Aruba.
“I took a turn to wide, and that’s the last I remember for about a month,” said Wallach.
Riding together, they were both thrown off the ATV and knocked unconscious.
Cynthia broke her femur, but Andy had the worst of it – a serious spinal cord injury and a severed leg that nearly killed him.
When he got to the hospital doctors told the family Andy had a 50% chance of living another year.
“For the first few months you feel down,” said Wallach. “Then you realize how great you have it.”
Andy was ready to defy the odds.
After spending hours and hours, day after day for the last year in physical therapy, he’s able to walk 100 feet unassisted.
It’s a climb that’s made Andy happier than he’s ever been - still anchored by the love of his life, who never gave up on him.
“You can overcome things when you work together,” said Wallach. “And we are a team.”
Moved by the support they’ve received from Monarch Physical Therapy, Andy and Cynthia have donated $2 million to the therapy clinic opening in the new Health Sciences Building, scheduled to open in 2023.
The clinic will be named the Faschini Wallach Center for Restorative Therapies.