When faced with new challenges, they can either break you or make you stronger.
For 39-year-old Chad McCrary out of Texarkana, Texas, he chose to take his negative life altering-situation and turn it into a positive one.
McCrary was a former firefighter and paramedic in Texarkana. In 2000, he began bodybuilding as a hobby, entering a few competitions here and there. "I was 225 pounds of twisted steel. I mean, I was in great shape and I felt invincible. You know, I was 10-foot-tall and bullet proof… so I thought," McCrary said.
He also considers himself to be a bit of a daredevil. If bodybuilding wasn't enough, he took to the dirt mounds on his dirt bike and enjoyed the adrenaline rush of motocross. But the rush ended on short notice. "I been riding just shy of a year when I had my accident," McCrary said.
His accident, a dirt bike stunt gone wrong, snapped his spine instantly. "I knew I couldn't get up, but I tried and I couldn't get up," he said.
McCrary suffered a T-12 burst fracture with obvious spinal cord damage. He was airlifted to LSU hospital where he stayed for one week before therapy and rehab in Texarkana. The operation was a complete fusion of the vertebra and surgeons screwed two titanium robs into the spine on both sides for stabilization.
McCrary was paralyzed from the waist down and doctors said he'd never walk again. But McCrary couldn't sit with that diagnosis. "I'm a bit hardheaded," he laughed.
So he started working out again, while in the hospital, in his hospital bed. And three months later, he was back on stage competing as a bodybuilder. Only this time, he was in a wheelchair.
"You just have to push, pull, drag, do whatever you have to do to overcome adversity," McCrary said.
Through extensive therapy and rehab, McCrary proved doctors wrong. Once wheelchair bound, he can now walk independently, although it is still a struggle.
"He's my knight in shining armor. I call him my Superman," ReLynn Fields, McCrary's fiance said.
A super hero to those who love him, but McCrary doesn't see this unfortunate circumstance as a disability. He sees it as more of a challenge.
"Never lose faith, hope and be strong in your spirituality, believe in yourself and you can get through. You can always get through… no matter what," he said.
McCrary plans to get back in the gym and train for upcoming wheelchair bodybuilding competitions. He said he hopes to place and earn a professional bodybuilder status.
He also dreams of becoming a motivational speaker about overcoming adversity. McCrary can be contacted via Facebook.
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