Surviving the odds a year later

GOOSE CREEK, S.C. (WCIV) One Lowcountry family is off to a very special holiday season this year. Friday marked one year since 9-year-old Zach Szala was bitten by a Canebrake Rattlesnake at Wannamaker Park.

"He's come a long way. He's doing a great job," said Elizabeth Szala, Zach's mom.

Just one day before last Thanksgiving, a rattlesnake bit Zach twice in the back left calf while spending time with family at Wannamaker Park.

"We missed all the holidays. Christmas was in the hospital. Christmas Eve was in the hospital," said Elizabeth.

Zach spent 38 days at MUSC, coming home one day before New Year's Eve.

"He was paralyzed from the waist up," said Zach's mom. "And then when he came home he was in a wheel chair and he couldn't talk very clearly and his eyes were still very dilated."

But what a difference a year makes - 12 months ago his mother didn't know if her son would even survive.

"I can say probably in the last three weeks I've been able to say he is back to normal," said Elizabeth.

Zach is even taking Tae Kwon Do classes in Goose Creek.

"It helps a lot with self confidence and flexibility," she said.

While a young man of few words, Zach had just one thing on the brain when it came to enjoying Thanksgiving this year.

"Turkey!" he said.

Reporter: "Anything else?"

"Not really - all the people coming over maybe," he said with a smile.{}

For the Szala family, this is one holiday they'll especially cherish, appreciating each other's company and not taking it for granted.

"You never know when they may not be there, and I think a lot of people need to be reminded of that in all the busyness of the holiday," said Zach's mom.

Zach's mom says ever since he was bitten by the poisonous snake, he hasn't had any desire to go back to Wannamaker Park.