CHARLOTTE, NC (WCSC) - Tyreik Gadsden has his favorites.
Thursday, few things made the 5-year-old happier than the chance to return home. For the last two months, Gadsden's been undergoing rehabilitation in a Charlotte Children's Hospital, recovering from a gunshot wound that left him paralyzed from the waist down.
"It's been a struggle for him," said father Ricky Gadsden.
"At one point in time, we couldn't even touch him. He wouldn't eat."
Victoria Williams, who works with Food and Nutrition at the hospital, found a way.
Williams, who served Tyreik his daily meals, often negotiated with the cunning kindergartner, exchanging slices of cake, after he took a bite of his pizza.
"It's just his energy he brings out," she said. "It draws everyone in."
Williams stood several staff members, in line to collect hugs and kisses Thursday, as Gadsden made his way out the door, and back to his home in Charleston.
Dr. Tobias Tsai, Medical Director for the hospital's pediatric rehabilitation center, said while Gadsden has shown marked improvement, he faces a long road ahead.
Tyreik has grown to operate his wheelchair, and can do many things for himself. Tsai says he'll likely benefit from a device to help him stand, and will need new wheelchairs as he continues to grow.
"Even on days where he was feeling ill, or not 100 percent, he still told us all the time, all he wanted to do is get back to rehab and get working in therapy."
"He persevered. He's able to go home because of that."
Gadsden left the Charlotte hospital with candy in hand, and the hearts of even more people.
"He's bright, like sunshine," Williams said.
"He's the one that's sick, but he's the one that's smiling."
A benefit fund has been set up in his name to assist the Gadsden family with his care. Donations are still being accepted at any branch of the South Carolina Federal Credit Union.