This month, Danny Miller, a Quadriplegic, will embark on a motorcycle journey through Alaska aboard a modified T-Rex. This is his story on how he got there…
Most people have a time in their lives they remember as a life changing experience. For some it might be getting married, or having a child born. Mine took place on Sept. 20, 2004.
On this day seven of my friends and I were involved in a car accident that had the vehicle we were in roll over across the freeway and down a 280 foot embankment. Most everyone walked away from it with cuts and bruises. I did not walk away and was told that I would never walk again; I was a quadriplegic.
I do not recall the event of the accident, and after about a week of being in a coma from a head injury that caused my brain to bleed and swell, I had learned what happened and was told that I would never be able to regain functions from my neck down.
I also had a crushed right hand, a broken right scapula, and bruised lungs that were taking on liquid and causing me to drown. While in the hospital, I was surviving with a respirator and stomach tube. Unable to talk, eat, drink, or move; like many I assume in a similar situation, I was saddened and discouraged that someone would have to look after me for the rest of my life. I
felt that my life was over. This disheartening news would later be a fact that I would ignore as well as prove wrong to the doctors and myself. My name is Danny Miller and this is my story of how I fought against all odds, and showed that nothing is for certain.
At the time of the accident I had just turned 24-years old, still a young man by standards with my whole life ahead of me. As a healthy young man, I was arrogant and proud, active in all types of thrills and adventures. I enjoyed anything that challenged, and scared me. I partook in such things as paintball, dirt bike riding, snowboarding, wake boarding, scuba diving, and rock climbing.
As well as staying busy with adventures, I also worked full time at the family Paintball Park, and was attending college full time in order to earn my degree in criminal justice. My boy hood dream was to be a FBI agent. I wanted to be the man you read about or see in movies that ended some political regimes plan to take over the world, or stop some cataclysmic event that would kill hundreds of people. I knew that what I saw in movies was fiction, but a boy could dream.
Many might say that I lived my life as if there was no tomorrow, and maybe I did, but I made each day count, and as I was told by my father "that life is measured by the risks you take and the strides you make."
As I look back, perhaps my arrogant and proud attitude was my down fall, and my injuries was a hard sit down about life, however, I believe that my arrogant, and proud attitude were the reasons for the next events to take place.
As an active young man, I was at a low point in my life when the doctors told me that I would not be able to live my life as I did and that I would need someone to care for me. They told me that I would never move anything from the shoulders down. I would be a 24-year old infant.
As I saw it, my life was over. However, my family and friends did not see it that way and believed that I had the strength and fortitude to stand up to this challenge and beat it back, just as I did when I was challenged or scared by an adventure.
With much debate and tears, I finally agreed with them and fought to be a man again, perhaps even the man I was. We found this place, called Project Walk, which is a spinal cord recovery center. Their knowledge, and positive attitude helped me to get better, and see that there is hope. It took some time and a lot of hard work, but after about a year after the accident I regained movement in my arms and left hand as well as being able to stand and take some assisted steps with a walker. Since then I continue to work out at Project Walk. Although it is challenge and a struggle to continue living life as I did, I still hold fast to my sense of adventure and continue to partake in many of my old activities, just with some adaptations to them.
Throughout the years, I have met other people in wheelchairs. Many with my same level of injury, and some had no movement from the shoulders down. They listened to what the doctor had told them, and gave up on life. It is sad fact that in today’s age of technological advances and breakthroughs, that someone is told that they will never be able to walk again, and that person’s dreams and ambitions are destroyed in an instance.
I want to show others that are disabled in anyway, that there is life after, perhaps an even better one. I want to prove to the doctors and therapist that there is hope and recovery, and anyone can get better if they work at it.
In June, I will embark on journey where I will ride an adapted motorcycle from southern California to Alaska. The adventure will be documented to show that even if someone lives their life in a wheelchair, they can still live a full life, and that there is no such thing as handi-capped, but there is handi-capable.
Being physically disabled, I have learned a lot. I have learned to be patient; I have learned failure and success, taking the first step, and how to better view people. My life is challenged everyday now even with the once simple tasks of tying my shoes, but I hold fast to my strength, and I am ambitious to see what the future has in store for me. I see myself as a stronger person, a man at the age of twenty-nine that views life at a different height, and will roll through life with a stronger concept of family, friends, compassion, and the persistence to improve my life, as well as others each step of the way.
To view Dan’s Facebook page dedicated to the trip, click here.