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Whicker: The reawakening of Daniel Franco

By in Press Enterprise on July 7, 2017

By Mark Whicker

RIALTO — Late last week Daniel Franco used a walker. He moved down the hall of the Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital in Omaha, Neb.

A few days later he ditched the walker, and attendants kept him upright.

On Tuesday he walked without help.

He can have chocolate ice cream, although not much, since the vocal cords haven’t sorted themselves out and his windpipe is vulnerable. The sounds he makes are raspy and guttural, but they wind up as words, sometimes off-color. His mom Teresa jokes that those are the product of recessive genes.

Daniel can text. On Monday his father Al was in the Warzone boxing gym, smiling as he showed his phone. The words in the little text bubble: “I love you Pops.”

Al flies to Omaha on Thursdays and comes back to the gym on Sunday nights. Teresa has been in the Midwest since June 10, the night that her son, fighting as a featherweight, took a right hand in the face from Jose Haro, went to sleep and kept sleeping.

Daniel had two brain surgeries and was in a medically-induced coma. Marooned in a waiting room in the flatlands, watching the world move on without their son, Al and Teresa had no options besides hope and prayer. So they hoped and prayed.

Now Daniel has made such quick and glorious steps that the Francos can allow themselves to anticipate the next one. Afterthoughts are now victories.

“I’ve seen it in boxing before, I’ve seen it with friends,” said Al, who trained Daniel from the beginning. “I didn’t want to say it to my wife. But the likelihood of him coming out? I didn’t expect that.”

Daniel had stepped into the boxing ring at WinnaVegas Casino in Sloan, Iowa. He was 16-1-3, having lost his USBA featherweight title to Chris Martin in an unforeseen knockout. Now he […]    

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