Saturday, March 17, 2012

#398: A Hero on the Road

I met a hero today. He noticed the shirts we were wearing for our Keeping the Dream Alive fundraiser, and stopped to talk. He told us his name was Chester, and that he had done a lot of work at Actors' Guild. He had an easy smile and a contagious laugh as he tried to remember what his last show had been. My teammates and I didn't recognize him, but we nodded politely. Turns out he was one of the "old timers:" the people who had helped to build the company years ago. I pricked up my ears. I enjoy the stories of restaurant basements and old gymnasiums that fill the company's early history. I thought he might have some great dish on one of the people I have met over the years. He had a much better story than that.

"They'd never tried anything this radical, but
they figured, why not? I was dead anyway."
Do you know what you are looking at here? This is a man's left knee and lower leg. You know how that happens? An unlicensed, uninsured, drunk driver plows through a red light and over your motorcycle as you are legally driving through a busy downtown intersection. He runs you down, trapping you and your bike under his pickup truck. He panics, and tries to run. Can't move. So he backs up, trying to dislodge whatever is hanging to his vehicle. Tries to pull away again. No dice. Tries a third time. Eventually, the driver stops trying to escape, and pieces of you are left under a truck and a motorcycle to wait for the coroner to arrive. 

"When they found me, my brains were on North Broadway, my guts were on North Broadway, and my leg was mostly torn off." Did it hurt? Nah. He was in a coma for the next four weeks. He says he died. They gave his mom 600 reasons why he should be dead. When he came to, after a month of morphine, they told him he should expect some mental retardation. Mom asked, "How would you know the difference?" Every survivor needs a wise-ass who loves him. Chester has a good one.

They had to tuck his brains back in to his head and stuff his guts back into his belly. They rebuilt his leg from scratch, drilling steel inside the soft tissue that remained. He told me he works out every day. The docs said his physical fitness was the only thing that saved him. "When I run, I look like Joe Cocker, drunk!" he jokes, but he by-God runs. He finished this morning's race just 5 minutes after I did. Just about the same time I ran the race a year ago. And I had both my own legs.

On his Facebook page, he says he harbors no negativity toward the man who almost killed him 600 ways. "All it does is eat you up and does nothing positive at all, as fear or worry, or jealousy; they are all negative emotions with no discernible value except to take you down, and not forward." Chester is a man who is moving forward.

I don't know this guy. But I really want to know him better. We "friended" today on Facebook. He is a genuine hero to me and an inspiration. It's going to be really hard to give up on my next long run when I remember a man who is training for a 10K after having himself spilled out all over a city street.

Running brings out some amazing things in people. And sometimes, amazing people come out to run. If you're lucky, you get to meet one. 

I was lucky today.


1 comment:

  1. what an inspiring story....thanks so much for sharing this!


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