Like many children growing up in the south, in the late 1950s and early 1960’s, Grandin went to church because that's what his family did. In the midst of his early childhood, he developed a devout passion for music. He sang in the choir. He led the band. Grandin loved music and music, in return, gave him purpose.
On March 12, 2006, when Grandin was 49, his faith was tested. It was a beautiful day for Grandin to enjoy one of his favorite hobbies - flying. When he lifted off and gained altitude in his ultra-light Tylon XP aircraft, things seemed quite normal. He had flown this craft many times. Despite his careful preflight inspection, the engine stumbled a bit and lost half of its power. At 200 feet altitude, Grandin quickly decided the best chance he had for an emergency landing was a pasture. As the aircraft approached the pasture, descending the entire time, Grandin knew this would not end well. His only thought was to avoid the trees. At 80 feet, the aircraft fell to the earth. Grandin’s last memory was the sound of the airplane collapsing on him.
He was airlifted by helicopter to the Medical Center in Columbus, GA. After eight days in the Intensive Care Unit, he was transported to Shepherd Center in Atlanta, GA, a specialty Spinal Cord Injury Center. Grandin’s official diagnosis was Complete SCI Injury at L1. He also had multiple injuries ranging from broken nose to collapse lung. The recovery process was long and exhausting. But Grandin drew strength from his faith. He found hope in the lessons of his childhood.
Grandin met other SCI survivors during rehab. He witnessed an array of emotional and physical consequences in himself, as well as his new friends. Despite frightening phrases like “permanent paralysis” Grandin was simply grateful to be alive.
During rehab, Grandin began to navigate the world in his wheelchair and attended an outdoor skills workshop. This was a turning point that reinforced his passion for “all things with a motor”. Grandin had a deep fervor for cars, motorcycles, boats, anything that had an engine. The outdoor skills workshop helped him tap into his ambitions and Grandin knew he would continue to do the things he had always enjoyed. He eliminated any fear and pushed toward a new chapter in his life.
Today, Grandin is always busy. Engaged in music or motors, he never quits; never gives up. Just recently he traveled from Georgia to Texas for a Folk Musical Festival where he camped for over three weeks in his accommodated camper. The plane crash might have changed him physically but Grandin never wavered. In fact, he became stronger and forged an “Attitude of Gratitude”.
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