Marshawn Robinson was just 9 years old when a freight train passing through his St. Paul neighborhood severed both of his feet. Incredibly, he managed to pull himself to help, and he is now making great strides.
The boy who goes by Marty captivated his community with his strength and bravery, and his story is almost a study in contrasts -- a kid with the strength of a man and then some but is still very much a boy.
The remarkable story of his survival seems to have set the stage for his recovery, and the reality that has hit home is that he has had some setbacks too.
It was a warm August day when Marty slipped under a train while playing on the tricks as kids in his neighborhood often did. The train took his feet before lumbering on, leaving the boy bleeding and alone.
"I didn't want to die," Marshawn Farr-Robinson told Fox 9 News.
That simple truth led him to do what seems impossible. He hopped on his damaged legs and when he couldn't do that anymore, he crawled 165 feet through rocks and brush on his stomach until someone saw him and called for help.
"He was very calm," St. Paul Police Officer Marshall Titus recalled. "He wasn't acting erratic or anything like that."
The officers and emergency responders received well-earned awards for saving Marty, but it was pretty clear he was the star of the show since no one knows better than Titus that help may not have found the boy if he hadn't fought his way to find it.
It took 4 months for the catastrophic injuries to heal enough for Marty to get to the point where he could try on his new lower legs and feet after the amputations. It took hours to fine-tune the fit, but the results were clear. The fit was close enough that he was able to take his first steps.
Brave and determined, Farr-Robinson makes it look almost easy -- but that doesn't mean he got to walk out on his new feet. That would happen weeks later.
His physical therapy will continue to progress, and learning to walk again will take time. He'll begin with a walker and graduate to crutches before a cane -- but even though his therapists tell him there's no rush, it's clear he's eager to get back to life as he once knew it.
In fact, when he left the watchful eye of his adoptive mother to spend the holidays with relatives, he overdid it.
"I weared them too long," he admitted.
Now, his legs are too sore to wear them at all, and he admits he is kind of disappointed. Even so, he can be grateful for the little victories and a daily routine despite the setbacks.
Kim Farr is also caring for three other adoptive children, and Marty doesn't always tell her when he's hurting. He's the type of kid who wants to do it all on his own.
"He is ready to get on them and go," Farr said. "He will learn patience."
The truth is, anyone who thought the boy's physical strength and emotion meant he'd pop on a pair of prosthetics and get going was dreaming.
"I work in the medical field, and until you really have to go through it, you really don't know," Farr admitted. "Kids and adults come in with prosthesis and I take care of them -- and until you are at home doing it yourself, you don't' know. You really don't know; it's hard work."
Yet, make no mistake about it, he'll get there because something else is true about Marty's story, too.
"You all cannot get him down," Farr said. "You cannot get him down."