For almost a month now, Josh Hernandez has been in the intensive care at Hendrick Medical Center in Abilene.

“We don’t know how long we will be here, or what the next step is — if it’s physical therapy, or maybe a private room at the hospital,” Josh’s mother, Anna Hernandez, said in a phone interview on Friday.

“We continue, here at the hospital, recuperating one day at a time,” she said.

Sixteen-year-old Josh was critically injured in a one-vehicle rollover June 24 in Mills County, when he apparently fell asleep driving home. All indications are that he will be paralyzed from the waist down.

On Friday, Josh was still hooked up to a breathing apparatus over his mouth, but Anna said within a few days doctors would perform a tracheotomy, making a small incision in his neck that would help his breathing, and make it so that his mouth won’t be obstructed.

Anna said all the tests for head injury had come back “clear.”

“He’s got movement in his arms, he sees fine, he listens to music and that helps keep him calm,” Anna said. “So far, he recognizes everybody, if he’s awake, but he still sleeps a lot. He cooperates, and we tell him, ‘the more you cooperate, the sooner we’ll be out of here.’ Like I said, it’s one day at a time.”

It’s a long, long way to recovery, and Anna knows that. But the single mother said on Friday it was very important for her to be able to tell the community, the hundreds of people who have donated to the benefits for her son, who have prayed for him, and her, and who have helped in ways she can hardly count, “Thanks.”

“First of all,” Anna said, “our thanks is to God. Then secondly, we have so many to thank. Our words can’t say how much it is meant to us to have so much help from so many people.

“We have to say special thanks to all of Brownwood High School for their support, to the Cowboy Church, Brownwood FFA, Brown County 4-H, the Brown County Fair Association, to so many organizations, businesses, friends, relatives for their big support with their prayers, food, visits, phone calls and all of the benefits. We have been overwhelmed, but blessed by their kindnesses.

“The whole community has demonstrated a special love and friendship for us, and we will never forget it.”

As a sophomore last year, Josh Hernandez played varsity football for the Brownwood Lions and he’s been extremely active in FFA and 4-H activities as well as youth rodeo. He had been elected president of the Brownwood 4-H Club and was serving as treasurer for the Brownwood FFA.

He showed pigs and goats at the Brown County Youth Fair “and we’d go to as many of the majors as we could afford,” Anna said. She serves on the Brown County Fair Association Board.

A benefit fund for Josh has been set up at Citizens National Bank and anyone who would like to make a donation of any size may do so during banking hours. Friends and businesses are “waiting” to find out how they can help — building ramps and widening the entries or hallways of the Hernandez home to make it wheelchair accessible. Also, Anna said, she had been in contact with West Texas Rehab for when Josh can start therapy and, she said, the Knights of Columbus at St. Mary’s Catholic Church have offered to help with the acquisition of a special wheelchair.

A benefit dance for Josh and the Hernandez family is scheduled for an 8 p.m. start time Saturday at the Youth Fair Barns. and tickets are on sale now at Stanley Dodge. For information about the dance or benefit, contact Hector at 325-829-1709.