Walking tall with new legs
by MELISSA SNYDER, Banner Lifestyles Writer
Sep 12, 2010 | 4212 views | 0 0 comments | 94 94 recommendations | email to a friend | print
It was the day before Thanksgiving, Nov. 26, 2008, when Chuck Evans’ life was forever changed. The most unthinkable traumatic accident which took his legs turned out to be a wonderful gift. Banner photos, MELISSA SNYDER
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It was the day before Thanksgiving, Nov. 26, 2008, when Chuck Evans’ life was forever changed. The most unthinkable traumatic accident which took his legs turned out to be a wonderful gift.

When he left his house the morning of Nov. 26 to go to his job at Bowater he decided to let his wife Susan and children Luke, Meryn, Laura Kate and Julia sleep in.

Normally he would rouse the entire house and tell them he loved them before leaving, but this one day he decided not to since he was planning on spending the next day with them enjoying Thanksgiving dinner and watching football. He muffled his steps not to disturb them and quietly left.

While at work, positive emotions of gratitude and thoughts of how blessed he was kept bubbling up in his mind, he said.

“I remember all through the day just thanking God and being thankful for everything. I had the best family and the job I wanted.”

In addition to his family, Evans was particularly appreciative for a salaried promotion he just received after working more than 20 years at Bowater.

“I was so happy. I worked with friends who sort of became family. I really grew up with many of them. We played and worked together,” he said.

In the blink of an eye, he went from a prayerful moment to a full on battle. There was an accident. He became caught in a piece of equipment.

“All of a sudden I was fighting for my life,” he said. “I didn’t know it then but it was the beginning of many miracles. As I look back now God orchestrated everything like a well-oiled machine.”

The nearest coworker, who didn’t hear very well, miraculously heard Evans’ cry for help. If it hadn’t been for him, Evans would have died within a matter of seconds.

“He was able to get to me. If it hadn’t been for him, I would have bled to death.”

According to Evans, the miracles continued to transpire. The first responders were there in record time and the Bowater maintenance crew was able to get him out of the device he was trapped in — fighting for his life.

“Normally they wouldn’t have the correct type of tools and equipment but on this day they did. All of the things went smooth for how dire the situation was,” Evans said.

From the time of the accident to the Life Force helicopter take off, it was only 40 minutes.

“We all look back on it now and see how remarkable it was that nothing went wrong. It was really nice the first responders were later honored at a statewide event for their quick and lifesaving action.”

Evans can recall every single thing which occurred and every word spoken the day the accident changed his life, because he was conscience the entire time.

“All I knew to do was pray. The thoughts of never talking to my family again ran through my mind. I was fearful I wouldn’t get to see them again.”

While in the helicopter, clinging to life, a big brown-eyed lady he saw reminded him of an angel.

“I later saw her when I was recovering. She told me she was impressed that I was praying for my family the whole time while they were working on me.”

Not long afterward she told Evans the helicopter pilot, who was a former search and rescue pilot for the coast guard, could hear him praying on the headsets.

“She said he was encouraged. I’ll never forget her face and how kind she was.”

Recently, Evans was able to speak at Bellefounte Baptist Church. While he was there sharing his testimony, he thanked them for their prayers at the time of the accident.

While he was recovering, he found out his friend John Ogle, who is the youth minister there, had the church pray for the person in the accident at Bowater right after it happened.

“They didn’t know who it was at first but they gathered to pray around 6:30 on Wednesday night and kept praying for me,” Evans said. “It’s really special to know how quick God puts people in place.”

The first few days Evans’ team of doctors were not sure if he would be able to keep his knees because of the crush injury which destroyed much of his muscle tissue. After losing eight pints of blood, spending four weeks at Erlanger Hospital, four long weeks at Siskin Hospital for physical rehabilitation and eight surgeries later, he found himself embracing another miracle — he was able to keep both knees.

“I could list a thousand things God did for me through all of this,” he said. “Susan and I would lay in the hospital — her on her cot and me on my bed — talking about the future. We didn’t know what but knew God had something great for us. He kept our hearts light and we saw what prayer can do. It works.”

After the accident Evans went through a low period in his life. He didn’t think it would happen to him, but he did struggle with depression and post traumatic stress syndrome. As he looks back now, overcoming this was another miracle of God. Once Evans realized God had a greater plan for him he began pursuing the path to recovery both physically and mentally — challenging himself to do more than what the doctors asked him to do.

“My daughter Laura had a faith that opened my eyes. She told her mom she was glad I still had my arms to hug her with,” Evans said. “I thought if a kid can find something positive in the midst of an earth shattering family tragedy then I could too.”

My prayer now is for this situation to be a platform for me to be bold, share my testimony and tell people about Jesus. I feel honor-bound to tell about his goodness.”

Since his grandmother began taking him at the age of 8, Evans has been going to First Baptist Church. Now he and his wife attend with their children. At the time of his life- altering accident and during recovery his church family shed tears with him, supported him and encouraged him.

“I have received so much from my church and now my kids are getting what they need from there,” he said. “Two of my mentors, Jim Gibson and my old high school Sunday school teacher Benny Kirksey, are two people I still go to for advice.”

At a young age Evans was privileged to hear about God. He has always known Him but professes today how God revealed Himself to him through the tragedy.

“I’m a walking talking answer to prayer. Not because of anything I’ve done, but for some reason God chose me to spare me and I interpret that as He has something more in store for me.”

God gets all the credit and some goes to his best friend and wife of 23 years, who Evans proudly says was his teenage sweetheart before they wed.

“Susan has been there for me and has been amazing. I am so glad she is a nurturer by nature.” said Evans.

He’s also thankful his wife enjoys his sense of humor and funny, sometimes giddy jokes. One of the first ones he told while still in the hospital was about the huge shoe sale he was going to have.

Known to be quick and witty with words, Evans remembers another joke he told to Kevin Gardner. Getting to know each other while their children swam in the pool, Gardner told Evans he made prosthetic limbs.

“I joked and said I hoped I never needed his services,” Evans said laughing. “I now see how God put him in my life. We are now good friends.”

As a extremity prostheses specialist certified practitioner Gardner has been quite helpful getting Evans mobile with the latest state of the art prosthetics.

“He goes over and above to tweak me. Kind of like a personal trainer. He can articulate what I can feel and do.”

Some may call it luck, Evans says it’s another miracle to be able to serve as a test patient for a new prototype motion foot.

“It’s more like a foot in many ways. I am really blessed to be able to have this high-tech device that is opening a lot of doors in the motion industry.”

Evans has come a long way since his first prosthetic the doctor gave him with precise instructions to use to balance.

“I thought I was going to hop up and take off, but realized it was going to take work. I put myself though some things I really shouldn’t have, but as a people pleaser I wanted to make my family and my doctors happy.”

“I quickly learned how the big toe balances the body,” said Evans. “I could start walking but when I stopped somewhere I had to have something to hold on to until I got better at it.”

While he is still learning, he’s doing what his doctors say and working toward the goal to run again. Obstacles are something he can work around. In college, he overcame dyslexia and in time he plans to dodge cars on the roadway. The sound of his shoes on pavement again is something he plans to check off his to-do list.

Although he no longer has the feet he was born with, Evans receives comfort and strength from Psalm 37:23, “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord and he delights in his way.” Whether stepping with feet or with prosthetics, he is confident where he is going.

“Anywhere God wants me to go and anything he wants me to do, I am willing.”

There is not a doubt in Evans’ heart the loss has made him a better person with a new and fresh perspective of what is most important in life.

He is sure many will remember him because of the accident which almost took his life. His wish however is to be remembered for living a life which exalted God.

“I want my family and everyone else to know I lived a life that glorified my Savior. Living this way makes me a good husband, father and child of the Father,” said Evans.

“I’m a walking talking answer to prayer. Not because anything I’ve done but for some reason God chose me to spare me and I interpret that as He has something more in store for me.”

Whether stepping with feet or with prosthetics Chuck Evans is confident where he is going.

In the blink of an eye, he went from a prayerful moment to a full on battle!