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Story #3: Jeff Nickell

Posted by Hugo Mendez on

My dig deep story starts on September 20, 2008.

That’s the day my 8 year old son was hit in front of our house by a car while riding a rip stick.

It was a beautiful fall afternoon....an SEC football Saturday when our door burst open and a neighbor yelled for us to come quickly.

I sprinted outside and saw a figure under a car that was stopped cockeyed in the street. I immediately knew it was my son.

When I reached the car I crawled under while my wife called 911. My son was bleeding badly but it was clear the worst injury was to his head.

He was unconscious but he was breathing. I held his hand and spoke softly to him while praying to God to save him.

The paramedics arrived quickly, but it seemed like an eternity to me. They gave me a neck brace to put on him and then got him out from under the vehicle.

LifeFlight had been called and in less than 30 minutes from the accident we were on our way to the Children’s Hospital in Atlanta.

The ER staff was waiting for us and jumped in to action as soon as we landed. They moved to resolve some respiratory issues caused by his broken ribs and punctured lungs.

Once stabilized, the head trauma had to be dealt with quickly as it too was a life threatening condition.

The brain was swelling and the neurosurgeon wanted to remove part of my son’s skull so the swelling would move up and out the opening relieving tremendous pressure on his brain. He was in surgery a long long time.

When we finally saw him late that night he looked like he had gone 15 rounds with Mike Tyson. His prognosis was not good. The doctors prepared us for the worst.

Definitely hard words for parents to hear. In addition to the traumatic brain injury, he had a broken femur, 5 broken ribs, a broken collar bone and road rash all over on his arms and legs.

Most didn’t think he would make it thru the night......but he did.

And then he made it the next and the next. Each day provided more and more hope for us.

As you might imagine this created a great deal of stress on our family. At the time I didn’t realize it but we all had to dig deep.

In addition to being present in the hospital for our son we had two daughters that needed to be cared for.

Certainly, we paused for a time initially, but life does go on. There’s still school and all the extra curricular activities to attend. Everyone had to take on more. And we did.

Everyone dug deep.

I have always been a runner. Not really because I liked it, but more because it allowed me to eat and drink what I wanted and remain at a respectable weight.

However, while he was in the hospital I found that I was able to escape the pressure, heartache, and unknown for an hour or so by going running.

I began to enjoy my runs in a way I never had before. It stuck with me and has grown to 3 marathons and 2 IM 70.3’s all within the last 2 years.

By the end of 2018 I will have completed one more of each. I really enjoy training. Well maybe except swimming but I’m improving.

The kids are older now which affords me more opportunities so I try to take advantage....sometimes to the chagrin of my 53 year old legs.

We spent 40 total days in the hospital. 20 in the pediatric intensive care unit and another 20 in the rehab unit. It was a long road filled with ups and downs but my son made a miraculous full recovery. One that nobody expected or could have predicted.

He graduated high school this year and will be attending college this fall.

God bless and keep digging deep!

Here is a video about Marcus story

Have A Dig Deep Story To Share? All you have to do is think of a particular time in your life when you had to dig deep (it doesn't necessarily have to be about racing or training, it can be about anything). Make your story as long as you want and send it to digdeepboco@gmail.com (subject : Your Instagram name if you have one). Don't forget to include a picture :) . I look forward to featuring your story! Cheers, Hugo

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