KITCHENER -- One year after he was rushed to hospital with COVID-19 symptoms, Larry Dietrich and his family vividly remember the day the virus nearly took his life.

"It’s an emotional day for me because I’m reflecting on one year ago today I could have lost my dad," Dietrich's daughter Alyssia told CTV News.

Dietrich was rushed to St. Mary’s Hospital on December 2nd, 2020 and was barely able to breathe when he was diagnosed with Covid-19.

He spent the next three months in hospital, and was put on a ventilator while spending time in the intensive care unit.

Dietrich was released from hospital this past spring, but said his road to recovery continues.

"I’ve come a long way," Dietrich said. "I’m a little stronger every day, gaining my strength and walking better, more and more every day."

His daughter said it's thanks to community support that her family has been able to get through this challenging time, "Everybody came together and was just one giant family and helped us out in the way of bringing us meals and donating funds to help us pay the bills."

Both Dietrich and his daughter said the one-year milestone would not have been possible without the help of the paramedics who came that night.

An unforgettable moment was when one of the paramedics relayed a message from Larry to his family before he was put on life support later that evening.

"He says 'I love you too and I know I’ll be ok.' That was really important to me because if he would’ve gone to heaven that night I would have known my dad loves me," Alyssia said.

To mark the one-year anniversary, Alyssia organized a surprise reunion to thank the emergency responders who helped save his life.

Brad Heikoop, an advanced care paramedic with the Region of Waterloo, was one of the first responders to help Dietrich that night. He said he's grateful to have the opportunity to reconnect.

“I’m not usually at a loss for words, but I’m glad to be here and to meet them like this. It’s good to know that I was part of that,” Heikoop said.

Dietrich is still awaiting surgery to repair his vocal cords, but said he is planning on heading back to work part time in the next few weeks.