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MAPLEWOOD, Minn. -- Two months ago Ray Widstrand was walking home near Payne and Minnehaha Avenues when several gang members brutally beat him for no reason. His injuries were so bad he was put into a medically induced coma.

Doctors could not tell his parents if their son would live. On Saturday Ray made his first public appearance at "Putts for Ray," a benefit his co-workers planned to help him with his mounting medical bills.

"I felt loved," Ray said.

Smiling comes easy but he still has trouble with speaking and walking and remembering what happened that night in August. Something everyone has struggled with is "why?"

"It was like really weird but whatever I'm cool...getting better," Ray said.

Ray is now at the Courage Center and has physical therapy every day.

His goal is to be back at work at a local cable channel by December. It's a goal co-workers like Judy Skeie-Voss are rooting for.

"We knew the minute this happened that Ray's position would be available to him for the long term...his chair is waiting for him to come back," she said.

Ray's father, Peter Widstrand, has also been waiting. He didn't know what recovery would look like for his son until he heard Ray laugh for the first time.

"It was actually a political joke and it was like, it took a little bit to get that joke and he laughed out loud at it and that was the time, I thought well there he is," Peter said.

Doctors still don't know how long it will take until he can walk again but for now Ray is focused on taking it all one step at a time.

The benefit raised about $14,000. People still wishing to contribute can make a donation to the "Ray's Fund" account at any Wells Fargo Bank.

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