Integris Baptist Medical Center gives out the Jim Thorpe Courage Awards each year. The Jim Thorpe Rehabilitation Hospital at Integris serves thousands of patients, but few take their struggles and become an inspiration to others.
Each of this year's Courage Award winners have also won major battles in their lives. Karen Bowers is recovering from a massive stroke, Brandy Haygood is recovering from a horrific car crash and Richard Morris is recovering from a mountain bike accident.
“I flipped it over and I broke my neck, and I knew immediately something was wrong,” Richard recalled from the 2017 incident.
Richard spent an hour in the woods waiting for help, and by the time he reached the hospital, doctors gave him less than a day to live.
“There were times when I thought to myself, if I had died on the table, they might get over it eventually,” Richard said in a video for the award ceremony, “but the good Lord pretty much told me, ‘no, I’ve got other things for you to do.’”
10 facilities and five surgeries later, Richard remains mostly paralyzed, but he is determined.
He told me, “I just want to make things as easy as possible for my wife Robi, so I’m trying to do as much as I can with what I have.”
His caregiver Scott Green told me Richard's mindset is why he won this award.
“He’s progressed so far through sheer determination and faith, and I think that’s the main reason,” Scott said.
Adaptive tools help, too, like Richard’s modified spoon, a device that allows him to shoot guns and even a fishing rod. The mastermind behind these inventions is his father Rick.
Richard said, “We’ve kind of named my dad MacGyver because of all the different stuff that he comes up with.”
Richard and Robi are now peer mentors at the rehab center, giving other patients the support system and encouragement that has been so vital to them.
“Life is different,” Richard admitted. “Life is going to be tough, but you can do it.”