|Don’t Ever Give Up!|
“I had no idea the YMCA would be a benefit to a person like me. And I am gonna do whatever I can to make sure people know.”
Steve Hemingway has always been active. Married for 30 years, a father of 4, and an entrepreneur, he is the kind of guy who is always helping others. And he’s still helping others . . . this time by telling his story.
“It was what I thought was the darkest day of my life. What happened to me is an example of things we take for granted.”
Steve was helping a neighbor the afternoon of Friday August 27, 2010. A large tree limb had fallen on the back of her house. He offered to remove it for her. Some twenty feet high off the ground, Steve recalls nothing about the fall. “All I know is that I woke up on the ground. I couldn’t move my legs. I thought 'well, you’ve really done it this time!’ I laid there and yelled and screamed until two young boys found me.”
Steve suffered a number of very severe injuries, including a broken back. And he was paralyzed from the waist down.
“Next thing you know your legs are hard, dangling dead weight.”
Steve spent the next two months in the hospital and in rehab, his wife Kitty always by his side. “It was kind of like dying and going to your own funeral. The support and love of my family and friends was amazing. I never knew how much others cared.”
Steve was told early in his recovery that at the age of 55 he shouldn’t plan on going much further than being in a wheelchair for the rest of his life. Then one evening a long-time friend suggested he go to the YMCA and take up swimming.
“The pool is the only place I could simulate walking.”
Today, less than two years after the injury, Steve works out regularly at the New Tampa YMCA. No longer confined to his wheelchair, he can walk around the gym without a walker and continues to work out in the pool. “I have a wonderful trainer. Stefanie is intelligent and sensitive and encouraged me to do more.”
“The Y has been a tremendous asset. The facility is wonderful but more than that everybody is so nice and encouraging. There is so much positive energy. Sometimes I feel like a celebrity!”
Steve continues to give back to others. “I’ve done well with the encouragement of so many. If people work out alone they don’t get the encouragement . . . the push. Because of people like Stefanie and others at the Y, I’ve done well. I am proud of the things we have been able to do. And when you know that someone else has done it . . . it encourages you! And I am not going to sit around and let it ruin my life!”
Thanks Steve! This is whY!