Sports Miracle Stories
In Malta, the small island I come from, summers are usually hot and dry and the month of June 2007 was no exception. My friend phoned me up suggesting we head down to the beach for a swim to relax and cool down a bit. I wasn’t really in the mood for that but on second thought I decided to follow. Little did I know what was in store for me!!!
On arrival at the sandy beach, my friend literally jumped into the water, but I decided to sunbathe a little bit before getting into the sea. She started calling me to join her, but I realized that the wind was slightly increasing its speed and this was creating waves, so I was very cautious. I just sat down in the shallow water instead of heading out to the deeper water.
Suddenly, a wave that was about half a meter in height rocked me back and forth on the spot. I never trust the sea, so alarmed, I decided to go back onshore. That was the worst idea I could have thought of, because on standing up, a higher wave hurdled in and pulled me out at sea.
Now the waves were very high, about 2 meters and my survival instinct took over and I started struggling to swim ashore. Instead of swimming, towards the shore, the high waves dragged me out and from the point I was at I couldn’t see land nor anyone around. I think I must have been dragged about a mile out at sea, and this was just the beginning.
The waves were now of enormous height and the wind increasing rapidly and panic overtook me. I am a good swimmer as I used to train aquatic sports and I also have Life Saving At Sea Courses and a member of the St. John Ambulance Brigade so, I was supposed to be trained. But at that moment in time, anything I knew felt useless.
I started crying, shouting and panicking…I felt I was going to die and it seemed to me a terrible death. At that very moment, something took over and I sort of ‘regained my senses.’ I was full of courage and decided that I couldn’t give up on my life now. So I started counting the waves and calculating their speed. The sea must have been force 8 or 9. At first I didn’t manage and the sea was pulling me out again, so I started to dive into the waves and using my strength towards the current by diving.
Somehow, my strategy was working and after a grueling 45 minutes out at sea, I made it to the shore. On swimming in, I could hear people shouting and an ambulance was being called. To this day, I can’t figure out how I managed to arrive back on land. My strength was gone, my mind blanked out, so for sure it must have been the hand of God. At least, that’s what the witnesses told me.
That day, in the same rough sea and at the same beach, a life was lost. So I must have been either lucky or had an extra helping hand from up above. You decide, I think I already know.
This miracle story was submitted by “C.S.” from Malta.
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A month after I graduated high school in 2004, I was coming home from swim practice and was involved in a near fatal car accident with a dump truck. The impact of the crash violently ripped my heart across my chest, shattering my ribs/clavicle/pelvis, collapsing my lungs, damage to every single organ and failure of my kidneys and liver, removal of spleen and gallbladder, losing 60% of my blood, severe nerve damage to my left shoulder, and in a coma where I was on life support for over two months at Prince Georges Hospital Center in Cheverly, MD.
I don’t have a memory of the accident, or the few days before the day of the accident. The first thing that I remember after the collision, which is still so vivid in my mind even today, is being in this very large white tube.
In this tube was a boy sitting to my left, and many other boys and girls on my right side (I use the term “boys and girls” because they appeared to be my age); I didn’t know why I was there or how I even got there in the first place. The more I sat there, the more I was able to visualize my surroundings. The boy to my left had a cell phone, and he asked me if I needed him to call anyone for me. I told him “yes, can you call my parents and tell them that I love them.”
The next thing that I remember is waking up in a hospital bed, chemically paralyzed and hooked up to all these machines. Through all the buzzes and beeps going off from the medical equipment that was saving my life at that instant, I could hear my mom and dad telling me in between dramatic pauses of crying hysterically that I was going to be okay.
Only moments before I believe I was waiting in line to meet my final judgment, but it must have not been my time. Moments later, I had come back to life. This was just the beginning of my suffering.
I died eight times while I was in the intensive care unit and even when I woke up from my coma, I couldn’t talk or communicate. The day that they knew that I would live, was the day that I either left my room in a wheelchair or a body bag. As far as the future, it didn’t exist. Walking was never going to happen again due to all the extreme injuries and because of the shattered pelvis. The thought of swimming was just that, only a thought. Just like my body, my dreams were shattered. But, I didn’t give up because I knew that God had a plan for me.
After spending two months in a coma, 14 operations, 36 blood transfusions, 13 plasma treatments, I lost a total of 100 pounds and had to go to a rehabilitation center in Baltimore. I had to learn how to talk, eat, walk, shower, and live independently again. After that agonizing experience, I had to go to outpatient therapy in Waldorf, MD.
After spending a few months in a wheelchair, I took baby steps to walk on my own. It was a miracle that I could walk again, but I wanted to prove the doctors wrong and not only walk, but run.
After I accomplished that, I wanted to get back in the pool again. After a few lung tests, I was able to go in the pool a little bit each week. Before the accident I had three goals: to go to college, swim on the team, and compete in an ironman triathlon one day.
After a few months of swimming a few laps here and there with my training partner and good buddy, Sam Fleming, I decided that I was not going to let my injuries stop me from living my dream, and six months after that I began my freshman year at St. Mary’s College of Maryland and also was one of the swimmers to watch on the team.
It’s very easy to go through and list these facts and make it look like everything just seemed to easily fall in it’s own perfect little place, but the truth of the matter is that it didn’t. It wasn’t easy, not then, and not now. The pain and the agony was real and it existed all the way through, in the good times and the very bad.
It was not an easy situation to be in where you’re laying in a bed, staring at the ceiling, knowing that your life is over while your looking at a priest give you the last rights.
I thought to myself over and over, why this situation had to happen to me. I was always a good kid, received good grades in school, and went to church. Why would something as horrific as this happen to me? Why would God allow this? I went on and on for days asking why? And, then it hit me. All that thinking and pondering on the what-if scenario’s and the questionable doubt only stirred up another question – why was I saved? I didn’t have anymore questions after that. I know what my purpose in life finally is.
With the 50 year life expectancy I was given from the doctors, I am just trying to live each day to the fullest and motivate and hopefully inspire other people, in their lives and in the faith. I have been labeled on several occasions that I am “Lazarus-like” because God brought me back to life.
To inspire even more, I just successfully completed the Steelhead 70.3 half-ironman race in Michigan a few months ago, and was also given the inspirational athlete media slot to compete in the 2007 Ford Ironman World Championship where my story and race footage was broadcast in the Ironman show premiere as the main feature on NBC on Dec. 1. See video below:
My story is about the recovery and the comeback, but I want to make it much more than that, I want to make a positive impact on the world. I am just trying to live each day to the fullest and motivate and hopefully inspire other people through my endeavors to never give up on their dreams, and to never stop believing in their faith in God no matter how bad a situation is because everything happens for a reason.
I remember when I was still in my hospital bed in ICU, I would have my mom and dad push me around in my wheelchair to the other rooms in the unit to see the other patients and talk to them and their families; it didn’t matter if the other patients were unconscious or comatose because I just wanted to talk to them, especially since there was always that possibility that they could hear me.
I wanted to let them know that everything was going to be okay, somehow things would work out for the best. I prayed with them, I said prayers for them, I tried to give them hope. I believe that my purpose in life is to bring hope to those who need it most and through my past accomplishments, I have been able to have the positive mindset to keep pushing through over all these obstacles and find my way in life.
Besides the ironman and triathlons, I’m doing a lot of work now with motivational speaking, the American Red Cross as being a spokes model, as well as the Brain Injury Association of America, and possibly the American Heart and Lung Association because I feel that this is how I can use my story as a means of helping others.
I competed in Kona, Hawaii in the 2007 Ford Ironman World Championship two months ago as the inspirational athlete media slot with only six weeks of training (in the entire sport of triathlon) and I was one of the main features on the 2007 Ironman show that premiered Dec. 1st. With Mark Allen as my coach, I plan on returning to Kona in the next few years on my own abilities to continue my life long quest of one day breaking the swim course record and hopefully winning the Ford Ironman World Championship. These are big goals but the saying goes, “Through God, all things are possible” and that statement is the story of my life.
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I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid arthritis in April of 2003. Before then I was not very active and I didn’t like any sports that involved any type of running, like soccer or basketball.
When I became ill I could not walk very well because my knees were very swollen and everything hurt. I found myself using the handicap restrooms. I had never realized how important those hand rails are or even the height of the toilet seat, but without those modifications I would have had a more difficult time taking care of myself.
Being unable to carry my four month old daughter up and down the stairs at our two story house was very hard to deal with and not being able to kick a ball to my six year old son at the park when he rolled the ball to me left a lasting impression in my heart that I will carry forever.
At thirty four years old the rest of my life looked very challenging. But for some reason about five months later I went into full remission, and luckily I had no permanent joint damage. MIRACLES DO HAPPEN!
When my health got better I decided to be a bit more active, at the time I was taking care of my kids as soon as I got off of work, and my wife was working late so I needed some activity that was the most time effective for me and running just made sense.
I started with a run around the block, and made it about fifty feet before I became winded and started walking, I continued walking around the block never running again. The next day I tried it again, this time I made it about seventy five feet and then walked again the rest of the way around the block.
With that twenty five foot increase in one day it was enough motivation to keep trying until I ran around the whole block without stopping. Build and build and stay positive. I kept running one block, then two, then three, than four and kept looking back everyday on yesterdays accomplishments to go farther the next day.
Soon I was up to about 2.5 miles a day! It was amazing what I accomplished in such a short time. I ran everyday for about sixty days and then one day on the internet I came across a marathon in Las Vegas on the famous strip. The strip would be closed for the first time. Running on the strip excited me, but I knew I was not even close to being able to run 26.2.
I knew I needed great help in this endeavor and with that thought I went to the book store and did research on the internet. I was a little scared about my health; being in remission from RA, I didn’t know if such stress on my body would trigger a relapse or if my joints were strong enough.
I purchased several books for marathon training and started to read them and I still had not made up my mind about trying 26.2. I decided to stick my neck out and I signed up for the new Las Vegas Marathon. It was eight months away. With book training alone I started the journey, following the training to the letter.
But as soon as the long runs started to increase, my knees and calf muscles were too sore even with days off in between to continue at that training pace. So I shortened my mid week runs to two five-mile runs and kept the long runs at the end of the week–the same as in the book–and it worked.
I ran my first marathon in Las Vegas December 2005 with a finish time of 5:06:05. It was the most uplifting experience in my life and to know the feeling of accomplishment for such a great task and all the challenges along the way to get there made the moment priceless for me.
NOW I RUN MARATHONS !! December 2006 I ran Las Vegas again with a finish time of 4:13:41, and I ran San Diego Rock and Roll Marathon in June of 2007 with a finish time of 4:35:40 and again I am doing Las Vegas Marathon in December 2007 where this journey first started.
Now I am hooked. Staying positive along the journey and now looking back I know miracles do happen !!! My running story is in a running catalog that runs in fall of this 2007).
This miracle story was submitted by “F.B.” from CA.