(ABC News) -- Ethan Kadish was simply enjoying a summer day when he suffered a devastating injury. Kadish and two other children were struck by lightning as they played Frisbee at a summer camp last June. Ethan’s heart temporarily stopped, leaving his brain deprived of vitally needed oxygenated blood.
As a result of the oxygen deprivation, Ethan suffered a hypoxic brain injury, which has left him unable to walk or talk. He spent five months in the hospital, and a gastrointestinal perforation put him back in the hospital just 10 days after he was released.
In spite of these setbacks, earlier this month Ethan returned to school, less than a year after his initial injury.
Now in a wheelchair and with a nurse, Kadish is able to attend classes at his middle school three days a week. He cannot talk, but works with teachers in the special education classroom. His mother Alexia Kadish, of Loveland, Ohio., said after just a few weeks at school they have already seen a difference in Ethan.
“It’s been more amazing than we could have imagined,” Kadish said. “We initially thought any sort of schooling would be homebound initially.”
Kadish said Ethan has been sleeping better on days when he’s at school. Ethan also gets visits from his old friends when he’s at school.
Even his younger sister will sometimes walk over from her fifth grade class room to visit him.
Kadish said Ethan’s road to recovery will be a long process and even doctors don’t know exactly how much his brain will recover from the injury. The eighth grader, who loved sports and musicals, no longer speaks but he has started laughing again.
“He laughs a lot. He even accesses the sad side … it’s more a of a pouting cry,” Kadish said. “He’s accessing the emotional areas of his brain. We’re hopeful that it indicates that he’s becoming more present.”
Kadish said the local Loveland community, a suburb of Cincinnati, has been amazing at helping to rally around the family and organize fundraisers to pay for the expensive medical care.
According to ABC affiliate WCPO-TV in Cincinnati even with insurance the Kadish family will have to pay between $150,000 to $200,000 for Ethan’s medical care last year. Additionally an overnight nursing service will cost about $150,000 per year out of pocket.
“No one plans for financial catastrophe to occur,” Kadish said. “You save for vacation or kids’ college expense. You say ‘For a rainy day’ [but] this is a beyond for a rainy day.”
Kadish said she was surprised that they have had support not just from local communities but from communities around the country.
“We’ve been touched by communities all around the country…hosting fundraisers for Ethan,” said Kadish. “I think one of the pieces of this story [is that] Ethan is like everybody’s kid. This really could have happened to anybody.”