Ray Widstrand, St. Paul gang beating victim, is recovering... slowly

Widstrand's life is no longer in danger, but how much he'll be able to recover remains an open question.
Nearly a month after he was left clinging to life after being brutally beaten by a group of 30 to 40 teens near the intersection of Payne and Minnehaha avenues on St. Paul's East Side, Ray Widstrand continues to make gradual progress.

THE BACKSTORY: Teen who allegedly stomped Widstrand's face during mob beating ID'd thanks to bloody shoes

"Ray has made numerous improvements this week in his physical therapy sessions," one of Ray's family members wrote yesterday on his CaringBridge page. "We are grateful and couldn't be more proud of him."

Widstrand, a 26-year-old who worked as a master control operator for a public access channel in White Bear Lake before the beating, still uses a tracheotomy tube to breathe, and he hasn't yet started speech therapy. But his family says his pre-injury personality is gradually reemerging.

"During one of his sessions, Ray was able to write out a few words, which was pretty exciting to witness!" an update on Widstrand's CaringBridge published Monday says. "Even Ray's personality came out a little, when he give us the 'are you kidding me' look when our dad (Peter) joked about how he should now try to draw an elephant for everyone in the room. :)"

Widstrand is now hospitalized in a long-term acute care facility. Despite his improvements, his family acknowledges he still has a long way to go.

"What was taken for granted now requires concentration," yesterday's update says.

Widstrand's 27th birthday is Saturday. If you'd like to send along your well wishes, you can do so here.

-- Follow Aaron Rupar on Twitter at @atrupar. Got a tip? Drop him a line at arupar@citypages.com.

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