Three inspiring Oklahomans recently were awarded the 2012 Integris Jim Thorpe Rehabilitation Courage Awards. The awards are given each year to individuals who show “exceptional bravery and grace through the most difficult of circumstances.”
This year's recipients are Dana Howard, Boston Tracy and John Waldenville. Each spent time at Jim Thorpe Rehabilitation within the past year after suffering traumatic injuries.
Karen Bryan, clinical manager of the brain injury floor at Integris Jim Thorpe Rehabilitation, was on the selection committee that processed nominations for the Courage Awards. Any employee, she said, can nominate someone for the annual awards, and she finds similarities in the types of people that are nominated, and win the recognition.
“What you see repeated over and over again is most of them have great faith,” she said. “And if they didn't have faith before, they definitely have it now.”
One of the keys to coming through a life-threatening and altering health trauma is keeping a positive frame of mind, Bryan said, and surrounding oneself with positive people. These three honorees all seem to share that positivity.
Part of winning the award, Bryan said, is representing Jim Thorpe in a positive way and spreading hope to other people who find themselves in similarly challenging circumstances. Tracy and his mother, for example, share the story of how Tracy was hit by a drunken driver, hoping to convince more people to stop drinking and driving and driving while distracted.
“It is a very high honor for these recipients,” Bryan said.
The three honorees share a similar zest for their lives that Bryan constantly tries to share with her patients. They all recognize that despite their traumas, “life isn't over.”
“You may be taking a different scenic route,” she said. “But you have to find out what your new normal is and thrive in it.”
‘I just trusted God'
Less than one year ago, Dana Howard became ill with an infection that quickly became septic. Because of severe blood clots, the medicine she was being treated with wasn't making it to her limbs. Her limbs couldn't be saved.
“If they didn't amputate I would die. I just trusted God. If this is what needs to be done, this is what needs to be done,” she said.
To reclaim her independence, the mother of three adult daughters went to Integris Jim Thorpe Rehabilitation.
“They would always encourage me. ‘You're going to have your life again. You'll be able to get your prosthetics and do the things you once did,'” she recalls. “That was really important to me.”
For two months, Howard gave all she had, strengthening her mind, body and faith.
“No matter what, God is in control and he makes no mistakes,” she said.
This is the amazingly positive attitude that got Howard nominated for the Courage Award.
She's recently received two prosthetic arms, and once some wounds heal, she looks forward to getting prosthetic legs.
“I'm just looking forward to that day when I can walk outside by myself,” she said.
“Courage, spirit and tenacity” are words used to describe Howard by the therapists at Jim Thorpe.
“Whatever He brings you to He's going to see you through it,” Howard said. “I would encourage others just to be humble and trust in God every day.”
‘I actually died'
University of Oklahoma sophomore Boston Tracy, 21, seems like any other young man. He's funny, handsome and outgoing.
Don't choose to settle where you are. Choose to put yourself back to the way you were and much higher.”
Boston Tracy, 21