HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Doctors said a closed brain injury caused Drew Iida to collapse and convulse during his pop warner football practice in October. After months filled with surgeries and uncertainties, his mother can finally say the cloud is lifting.
"He's been making progress a lot faster," Sheri Iida said.
But the brain injury stole years off the six-year-old's life. He has to relearn how to walk, talk, and use his hands.
The story of Drew's situation spread when University of Hawaii quarterback Bryant Moniz told ESPN and the nation about him.
Arizona Cardinals star receiver Larry Fitzgerald visited the youngster at the Phoenix Children's Hospital.
"The Arizona Cardinals do a lot of work there," he said.
Fitzgerald and Moniz joined the Iida family at a fundraiser Thursday to help the family with their hospital bills.
"I thought we could raise some money for a good cause," Fitzgerald said.
"If you look at the individual cost, day by day, it may not seem like a lot," Sheri said. "But he's been in the hospital for almost four months now."
Drew has had five brain operations in four months. The last was a week and a-half ago. But he's gradually becoming the boy he was before the injury.
"He even plays practical jokes on us. He'll breathe hard. When we rush to him he gives us this big smile," Sheri said.
Being with Drew is a juggling act. His parents take turns between the Phoenix hospital and Hawaii. They also have two other children, and a growing list of new friends.
"There are a good number who just saw our story in the newspaper, on the news, and out of the blue felt for us and just wanted to send some encouragement," Sheri said.
The Iida's will need a lot more encouragement. Drew's rehabilitation will take three months, maybe longer.
Donations to help the Iida's with their hospital expenses can be made at any American Savings Bank under the Pray for Drew account.