John Waldenville was working security for Cattlemen's Steakhouse in May 2011, when he was ambushed, robbed and shot in the head. He survived that night and now, a little more than a year later, he's being honored with the Integris Jim Thorpe Courage Award.
Waldenville, an Oklahoma County Sheriff's Deputy is used to helping and protecting others. These days, though, he spends his time helping himself.
"It's been tough," he said.
Waldenville was working security at the restaurant last May. He was walking a deposit to a nearby bank when he was ambushed and shot in the head. Keonta Prince and Christopher Baker are charged with shooting with intent to kill and armed robbery.
"After being shot, really to be honest with you, the only thing I remember is waking up in the hospital," Waldenville said.
He woke up with a traumatic brain injury. He couldn't walk or move his left shoulder. He lost his right eye when the bullet severed his optic nerve. He also suffered jaw damage and hearing loss. But through it all, he's remained positive.
"I've always been a person to be challenged and take that challenge and I'm glad that's how I grew up," Waldenville said. "All your skills and everything you've learned through life, when you reach a traumatic event like this, helps you."
Through surgery and physical, speech and occupational therapies, Waldenville is regaining his life back, even described by his therapists as a "walking miracle."
"Quitting is not an option," he said. "It's in all of us, just dig deep inside and you'll find that strength and that motivation to take that next step."
Waldenville said his motivation is to be able to do all the things he did before and to once again help others.
"I hope one day to become an advocate to others, and I say that in such a positive way because it is a challenge."
A challenge he has faced head on with his wife Marjorie.
"We've become truly best friends, very much best friends," Marjorie said. "We've gotten so close."
"Having my wife here and having her support has just been outstanding," Waldenville said. "Outstanding isn't even the word for it, just don't know how I'd make it without her."
Integris Jim Thorpe rehabilitation will honor Waldenville and other courage award recipients at an event on Saturday, August 25.