MISSOURI CITY, Texas (KTRK) -- A little boy was all smiles when he got the chance to ride in the front passenger seat of a firetruck with a Missouri City firefighter.
"I'm trying not to cry," said the boy's mother, Cassandra Archey. "I'm trying to hold it together."
Friday morning, 3-year-old Noah Whittington and his mother met the firefighters, paramedics and the good Samaritan who saved him last summer.
"It's definitely a joyful moment," said one of the EMTs.
On July 11, 2018, Noah was at a neighborhood pool in Missouri City. He and his mother, from Florida, were in the Houston area visiting family.
"I just kind of tracked Noah walking," remembers Gerard Wilcher.
Wilcher was at the pool with his daughter when he saw Noah go under. In seconds, Wilcher knew something wasn't right.
"When he didn't come up, I just went in and got him," Wilcher said.
Wilcher did CPR and in minutes paramedics arrived. But Noah had been underwater too long. He suffered severe brain trauma that day.
It's been a long recovery since then. Noah has undergone 38 oxygen treatments since the accident. He spends 60 minutes in a hyperbaric chamber five times a week.
Archey posted pictures and updates on how Noah was doing on a Facebook page. She's sharing her son's difficult journey for one reason.
"Hopefully, it gives other people hope if it ever happens to them and will make people more aware of how quickly it can happen," Archey said.
If there's anyone who understands how quickly it can happen, it's Wilcher.
The Rice football coach says when he was young, his older brother drowned. That day at the pool, Wilcher says he wasn't going to let that happen to Noah.
"The only thing I could think about is, 'This is not going to happen while I'm here,'" Wilcher said.
Since July, Wilcher and Noah have become close - an unlikely friendship with a deep bond.
"I needed to meet the people involved in helping save his life. It was just something I really needed to do," Archey said.
Noah still needs oxygen treatment, but Archey says each appointment in the hyperbaric chamber costs about $8,000 and is not covered by insurance.
If you'd like to help Noah, you can donate here.
To see how Noah is doing, click here.