MIAMI GARDENS, FLA. (WSVN) - A wheelchair-bound man who did not let his disability prevent him from graduating from college is now ready to ride, thanks to a fellow alumnus and a South Florida car dealership.

Applause greeted Florida International University graduate Aldo Amenta as he and his family came into Palmetto57, Friday. They got the surprise of a lifetime when they received a new wheelchair-accessible van.

“I feel overwhelmed, so excited, super happy and blessed about receiving this gift,” he said. “I honestly have no words.”

Amenta gained national and international fame this past fall after he walked across the stage at FIU with the help of an exoskeleton to receive his diploma.

Back in 2015, Amenta suffered a severe spinal injury during a swimming pool accident and became a quadriplegic.

But despite the horrific incident, he refused to give up and graduated from FIU’s College of Engineering and Computing.

FIU President Mark B. Rosenberg said Amenta has become an inspiration.

“It’s certainly very important when all students graduate, but here’s an individual who’s struggled against all odds to be successful, and he deserves even more support and applause,” he said.

FIU trustee and graduate Rogelio Tovar heard Amenta’s story and immediately worked with his team at Palmetto57 in Miami Gardens to secure a van, allowing Amenta to continue pursuing his dreams.

“I want to make one thing clear: We’re not giving anything to Aldo,” said Tovar as he addressed attendees. “Aldo has given us the opportunity to invest in him and his future, and that is what we’re doing today.”

And what exactly are those dreams?

“I’m going to do my master’s degree at FIU and am hoping to be able to give back to the community everything that they have given me,” said Amenta.

Amenta said the first thing he plans on doing with his new ride is visit FIU.

Copyright 2022 Sunbeam Television Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Join our Newsletter for the latest news right to your inbox