Inspirational S. Indiana man learning to walk again, hoping to save lives

Ironman athlete says helmet saved his life

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- One local family is speaking out about the most trying time of their life, in hopes of spreading a message that could save lives. Dave Miller was in a bike accident over the summer and paralyzed from the chest down. He is now learning to walk again and says he’s alive because of his helmet.

The Ironman is a race that takes determination.

"It was either running, biking or swimming up to five hours at a time,” Dave Miller said.

That determination defined Dave Miller.

"There was not a day that he wouldn't be training”, his wife, Stacy Miller said.

July 1, Miller and three training buddies were riding bikes in Floyd's Knobs. It was a path he'd ridden time and time again.

"They were on mile 30, 100 yards probably from where they started. They were coming down a hill and his friend said let’s make this last hill count,” Stacy Miller said.

"I remember hitting the car. I remember seeing the sky, and then I remember being on the road unable to move,” Dave Miller remembered.

Miller was unable to move, but he was alive. "That helmet saved my life,” he said.

The helmet was the only barrier between him and the car he hit head first.

Stacy Miller said, "When he got to the ER he wasn't able to feel anything from the chest down so that was really a scary thing."

Dave spent 12 days in the ER, and months in in-patient rehab. During that time, he learned to embrace the small things, because this has made them big.

"Every day he gets stronger,” Stacy Miller said.

"It’s the hardest work I've ever done mentally and physically,” Dave Miller said.

Moving to outpatient therapy made for a major milestone. The move brought Dave recovery and relationships.

One formed when he was still a patient on the tenth floor of the Frazier Rehab Institute. That’s where he met Gordon Kirkland.

"We're in a race to see who walks first,” Kirkland said.

For both men, that’s a goal that starts one step at a time.

Kirkland added, "He's been my inspiration, he really has. He's a great guy."

Dave says one day maybe the bike will be back. But for now, it’s all about his bride.

"I just want to hold my wife's hand and take a walk down the street. That's what I want to do,” Dave Miller said.  "That's what his goal is and that's our goal,” Stacy Miller said.

The finish line may look a little different than it used to "life can change in an instant,” Dave Miller said.

The road is now a little bumpier than it was before, but Dave is paving it as a path of promise.

You can follow Dave’s recovery story on this Facebook page

On October 28, there will be a benefit for the Miller family at Newlin Hall, Floyd County 4H from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. It will be a silent auction and spaghetti dinner. Email baffleming@gmail.com for more information.

© 2017 WHAS-TV


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