Double Amputee Overcomes Obstacles To Inspire Others

Feb 21, 2019, 11:01 PM

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – On the helipad by Primary Children’s Hospital, Kacey McCallister took selfies in front of, and checked out the cockpit of a Lifeflight helicopter. It’s the first time he’d been near one, since he was flown to Primary Children’s back in 1992.

“This is pretty incredible, being back at Primary Children’s Hospital,” McCallister said. “It’s changed quite a bit. I don’t remember too many things about the building.”

Though McCallister doesn’t remember the flight, he was transported aboard a different Lifeflight helicopter, after he was struck by a semi-truck, while visiting relatives, in Roosevelt. He was 6 years old at the time. He darted into the road, ahead of his family, to cross the street.

“About midway, I paused, probably seeing the truck coming,” McCallister said. “(I) even jumped to get out of the way at the last minute.”

It was too late. McCallister’s left leg was severed. His right leg was broken in seven places, and was ultimately amputated.

Photo credit: Kacey McCallister

One of the two nurses who showed McCallister around the helicopter Thursday, was Laurie Merrick. A Pediatric Intensive Care Nurse back in 1992, she cared for McCallister the night of the accident.

“He was darling; cute red hair, and he cried all night that his legs hurt,” Merrick said. “It was hard. I cried with him, because it was sad.”

Merrick said that night changed her, because she had children around the same age.

“I randomly would just start crying when I’d think about this little boy with no legs, and what was going to happen,” Merrick recalled.

Photo credit: Kacey McCallister

McCallister, however, didn’t allow his circumstances to control his life. Having a love for sports, he found many ways to compete as a child. Nowadays, he participates in Spartan races, which have some of the most difficult obstacle courses for anyone.

“Typically you don’t think these obstacle course races are for para-athletes, but that’s why I’m out there,” McCallister said. “I’m showing that para-athletes can do anything, and overcome any obstacle.”

Now living in Oregon with his family, McCallister works as a motivational speaker; inspiring others to overcome their obstacles, much like he has.

“It stopped being about me,” McCallister explained. “It stopped being about what I could do, because now, I know I can do it. It is no longer about me anymore. It is about other people. Showing other people what is truly possible.”

Photo credit: Kacey McCallister

That’s also part of the reason why McCallister was at Primary Children’s Thursday. He gave his motivational presentation to a crowd of staff from the hospital.

“This is an awesome experience, to get to see him, and see how successful and how amazing his life is,” Merrick said. “You never know whose life you change and how they do, and to have him come back and see him, 26 years later, is awesome.”

McCallister says his hope is to help others like him find their way to enjoy life and find a way to live it to its fullest.

“A disability, a challenge in life, it’s not the end goal. It’s not the ending,” McCallister said. “We identify by how we overcome, not what happened to us.”

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Double Amputee Overcomes Obstacles To Inspire Others