LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - With just weeks until presents will be opened, Lufkin native Greg Sims is happy to be celebrating the gift of life.
"It was the worst Christmas I have had," Sims said when talking about Christmas 2009.
Just four days before the holiday, Sims was driving across the State Highway 103 Bridge on the Sam Rayburn Resivour when his life changed.
"I just remember crossing the bridge, and then that's it," Sims said. "I did not remember anything else until they were cutting me out of my car."
Sims' black Ford car was hit head on by Gene Albritton and his green pickup. Albritton was killed at the scene. Sims was flown to the East Texas Medical Center in Tyler.
"Things we're pretty dark at the time," Sims said. "Basically, everything on my left side was crushed. My left leg was broken in like 15 places; left elbow, left shoulder, my right wrist. I had extensive surgeries and broken ribs."
With news that he might not walk on his own again, Sims came to a crossroad on how he would handle life.
"You have two choices," Sims said. "Either you can lay down and wallow at what is going on, or you can pull yourself up by the bootstraps and find a way to make something out of it."
Sims became inspired by his social worker and enrolled at Stephen F. Austin State University. He graduated and then completed the graduate program. Sims was helped by the Department of Assistive Services who ended up helping him pay for his master's degree. Sims credits most of his success to Dr. Emmerentie Oliphant.
"She was so instrumental in helping me," Sims said. "To come out where I am at now after that, it makes you thankful for every day that you have."
Sims now works with Impact Lufkin, a revitalization project between SFA and The Temple Foundation that looks to improve the North Lufkin Community that many feel has been neglected.
"It really gives me a chance to pay a little back the blessings I have been given," Sims said.
Where many see despair in the streets, he sees hope.
"I really think it provides some inspiration to you know not to get yourself down because there is a brighter side to it," Sims said. "You just have to find it. I don't really believe in fate or destiny but it just seems like I was put here for a reason."