NEW BOSTON, Texas — A negative, impactful life-changing event can lead to a life filled with negativity or positivity.
Chad McCrary, a professional wheelchair body builder, made a decision when he broke his back in 2005 in a motocross accident that he was going to face adversity, not be a victim of it.
"When adversity strikes, people face a new normal," McCrary said. "I like the phrase 'overcome adversity'. It comes down to adapting to a new normal. Whether that is the loss of a spouse, the loss of a job or bad health, it really is all the same. I can't inspire myself, as odd as that may seem. I had two choices — give up or make the best of my situation.
"I do motivational speaking and hope that I touch many people's lives. God was telling me that I needed to tell my story. It was a strong feeling and it scared me a little. The doctors at Louisiana State University hospital told me that I would never walk again. They also told me that I would never lift weights again."
McCrary, who is from DeKalb, Texas, defied the opinions of the doctors and learned to walk. He can not walk for long distances, but walks short distances using forearm crutches. It took a long time and determination.
"I have the mentality that I have fought so hard to get back on my feet, so I want to use the wheelchair as little as possible," he said. "I fall a lot, but I learned how to fall. When I fall, I learned not to fight it. When I fight it is when I get hurt."
The standout weightlifter, 46, won the heavyweight division and the over 40 division March 17 at the Wheelchair Nationals in Palm Beach, Florida.
Mike Lockard is the chief of staff at Red River Army Depot, where McCrary works. Before his injury, McCrary was a paramedic and a firefighter. Those jobs came to a halt when he shattered his T-12 vertebrae.
"I have been at Red River for 20 years," McCrary said. "Mike told me that they were willing to accommodate me. He told me they had an opening. I thought, I am going from a paramedic/firefighter to a desk job pushing papers. I didn't want to go home on disability. I get up every day and go to work despite that I don't sleep well."
McCrary learned that he had affected someone's life when he was on a shopping trip to Walmart.
"A lady stopped me while I was in Walmart," he said. "She said that she had a daughter who was going through a very difficult time. The daughter was going through a divorce, loss of a job and suicide. She told me that her daughter read an article about me, and that she got on with her life. I wasn't expecting such a testimony, and I realized that I had significantly underestimated the power of my testimony. After that I put together a website. About a half a year later, I had people wanting me to speak."
The first time McCrary gave a speech was at the Rotary Club in 2017. Sometime after, he talked to a graduating class at his alma mater, New Boston High School. He realized that he could help people in a way that was different from emergency medicine as a paramedic.
"When I am speaking to a crowd, it's all in the delivery," McCrary said. "I want to do more than just tell a story. I want to deliver a message of hope and overcoming adversity. I think God puts people in our path to help us. I know He has done that for me."
McCrary's website is chadmccraryinspires.com. He also has a book that he co-authored with Nick LaToof titled "Answering the Call." The book is available at amazon.com.