From Near and Far
Former Shepherd Center patients from across the nation report on their productive lives post-injury.
Written By Phillip Jordan
Ronnie Brinegar, 40, of Benton, Ky., is a longtime fishing tournament director for FLW Outdoors. Since his five-month stay at Shepherd Center for a C-4 spinal cord injury he sustained in an automobile accident in July 2010, Ronnie has found a new way to use his fishing connections.
Last September, he sent a check for more than $4,000 to Shepherd Center. With the check was a note: “I was a patient there 7-1-10 thru 12-3-10 on a sip-and-puff chair with no movement from the neck down. I’m now typing this letter.
“This money was made thru the first ever Ronnie Brinegar Shepherd Center Fishing Tournament, which [will] be a yearly event from this year forward. Continue to keep performing miracles!”
He’s serious about the miracles. “Those first three months there, they kept having me do these exercises,” he recalls, “but I couldn’t move anything from my neck down. I thought they were crazy. I was thinking, ‘Why are they bothering to do this?’”
Gradually, however, Ronnie’s fingers began to respond. For the first time after his car accident, he regained some movement in his arms. Today, he can dress himself, write letters and straighten his legs.
“That’s a place of angels,” Ronnie says of Shepherd Center. “Without their pushing, I wouldn’t have made it to this point. Period.”
With the support of his wife, Stephanie, and his 4-year-old son, Fisher, he wants to return to Shepherd Center this year for another stint in the SCI Day Program to keep working on his legs.
“I couldn’t get out of there fast enough the first time,” Ronnie says. “Now, I understand why it’s worth it. Now I can’t get back there fast enough.”