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Oklahoman finds a miracle in a different form

Dr. Dale Brannon said he never had difficulty accepting his new challenges after an accident in 1994 left him paralyzed.
by Bryan Painter Modified: June 8, 2014 at 10:00 am •  Published: June 8, 2014

The miracle came. Just not as expected.

People from where Dale Brannon grew up in Okmulgee County and where he was residing in Stillwater were both praying for a miracle at the time of the accident in March 1994 in Colorado.

And it came, said Brannon, who suffered a spinal cord injury and was left paralyzed from the chest down with limited motion of his arms.

But, he said, the miracle wasn’t the one they were praying for: that he would be healed and walk out of the hospital in Colorado.

“The miracle I received was that I never had difficulty accepting my new challenges,” said Brannon, 44, who lives near Edmond. “I had been told success stories about people with similar injuries and my attitude was that if they can be successful then there’s no reason why I couldn’t be successful. I had the best support system in the world. My hospital room was full of flowers and vases and balloons and get-well cards made by entire elementary school classes.

“I was in the hospital in Colorado, but my wife was there, my mother and father were there, my sister was there, my uncle, high school buddies, college friends, and even my landlord came to see me in the hospital in Colorado. I had no doubt that I had the greatest support system that anyone could ask for. I had no excuse not to continue on and be successful.”

Brannon said with the support and acceptance of the new lifelong circumstances, he was able to accomplish rehab goals that had been set for him by his doctors and therapists three weeks early.

Before the accident

While growing up in rural Oklahoma, Brannon dreamed of being a veterinarian.

But at some point during his two-year Mormon church mission Brannon changed his mind and decided he wanted to be a medical doctor. Specifically, the revised dream was to become a small-town doctor in a rural community, “The kind of doctor who looks back on his career after 50 years and can say that he delivered the whole town.”

On March 7, 1994, he and a friend were in a 1991 pickup traveling westbound on Interstate 70 between Burlington and Vona, Colo. Brannon, at the time a student at Oklahoma State University, was headed to Utah. He’d studied at Brigham Young University before transferring to OSU and was going to see his BYU anatomy professor for a letter of recommendation for his medical school applications.

Brannon had driven for about eight hours, but then they switched and the friend took over.

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by Bryan Painter
Assistant Local Editor
Bryan Painter, assistant local editor, has 31 years’ experience in journalism, including 22 years with the state's largest newspaper, The Oklahoman. In that time he has covered such events as the April 19, 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah...
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