“That’s not going to happen to me!”
That’s what many of us think when as we go about our daily lives. We go to work, drive home, and spend time with our families, all the while dismissing the potential that a single instance can have to change our lives forever. The feeling is even stronger when we are just performing routine tasks that we have done countless times before. On March 26, 2022, that same thought passed through Hal’s mind as he was doing yard work around his Florida home, unaware that he would nearly lose his life before the day was over…
Like many of us, Harold “Hal” Davis is an “ordinary” person. He is 53 years old, and lives in Florida with his wife, Cyndi, and they have been married for 26 years. He has two adult children: his son, “Lil’” Hal and his daughter Hannah. The Davis family is a God-loving family, and Hal regularly puts his family’s needs before his own. Hal has worked in law enforcement for 30 years, and for the past 15 years, he has worked at the Orange County Sheriff’s Office in Orlando, Florida, where he is responsible for providing training to over 180 deputies. He also works part-time at Valencia Community College, where he provides instruction to new law enforcement recruits going through the police academy. Hal enjoys spending time with his family when he's not at work, and they have all begun enjoying hunting together during duck season. Like most fathers, Hal is looking forward to the day he can walk his daughter down the aisle on her wedding day.
On March 26, that dream, along with Hal’s work and family time, were nearly extinguished. Hal was working in the yard and was cutting a large limb from a tree. As the limb was about to separate, it moved unexpectedly, swinging towards him instead of away from him as he intended. In an instant, Hal went from standing on a 10-foot ladder—which was being supported by his wife—to the ground, striking his wife on her head and shoulder just before striking his own head on the ground. As he struck the ground, Hal felt his neck snap, and he quickly lost the ability to breathe. He tried desperately to talk, but being unable to breathe, he was unable to say anything to his wife before he lost consciousness.
Briefly dazed, Cyndi recovered and tried to assist Hal, but when she checked his breathing and pulse, she found both missing. She began screaming for help, hoping that someone would hear her and come to assist them while she tried to perform CPR on Hal. As if by a miracle, a neighbor who was usually never home during the day happened to hear her cries for help and rushed over, calling 911 for them. During this time, Hal saw white clouds and lights, and genuinely believed that his time was up… but it wasn’t his time just yet.
Hal opened his eyes to find his wife performing CPR on him. He was unable to move his body, and his breathing was still strained. After medical personnel arrived, Hal was air-lifted to a nearby hospital for emergency care. During his initial time there, Hal underwent several examinations on his neck and the doctor’s there performed an emergency surgery to try to fix some of the damage. Once this was done, doctors and nurses came to speak to Hal, and explained that the damage to his spine was causing his paralysis. A few days later and after conducting a few tests with Hal to see if he could move his body independently or if he could feel anything in his arms and legs, Hal was told that he may have to prepare to live the remainder of his life in an automated wheelchair.
Work. Family life. Dreams. All nearly destroyed in an instant.
But Hal did not maintain a 30-year career in law enforcement because it was easy. He does not have a 26-year marriage because there were no challenges. Hal is a hard worker, and he was determined to get better. Instead of focusing on everything he has potentially lost, Hal put all his energy into what he wanted to gain (and what so many of us take for granted): the ability to walk. And although he knows this is a long journey, he has already made progress—a week after the accident, after being unable to move his lower body at all, he was able to move his toes!
After spending two weeks in the hospital, Hal has decided to continue his care with the Shepherd Center in Atlanta, Georgia, which specializes in medical treatment and rehabilitation for people with spinal cord injuries. During this time, Cyndi will initially be working remotely so she can stay by his side through his inpatient treatment and rehabilitation, which will last at least two months. Once the inpatient treatment is over, Cyndi will transition to FMLA leave so she can accompany Hal on the longest part of his journey—his outpatient rehabilitation will still be with the Shepard Center, and he will need to be there for at least 10 months, and for up to 2 years.
As you might imagine, 2 years of rehabilitation has direct and indirect costs, and that’s where you can help. If you choose to donate, you would be helping Hal by contributing to the medical bills he will receive during his stay at the Shepard Center, which is his best chance to walk again. You would be helping Cyndi stay by Hal’s side during his outpatient treatment, since her FMLA leave will eventually be unpaid, and she may eventually be separated from her employment. You would be ensuring that Hal and Cyndi have a place to come home to, since the loss of income Cyndi and Hal are facing, combined with an influx of unexpected bills, will undoubtedly strain their budget. But most importantly, your donation, no matter the size, tells Hal that there are people in his corner thinking about him, praying for his recovery, and hoping that he will achieve his dream of being able to walk again.
Thank you for taking the time to read Hal’s story, and thank you for any thoughts, prayers, and support you are willing to provide!