The strength of a person to overcome what others say is impossible is simply astounding. Doctors told Brock Mealer he would never walk again after a car accident on Christmas Eve 2007 fractured his T-12 and L-1 vetebrae. Despite his mother’s belief Brock would walk again, doctors continue to reinforce the “fact” that he would be confined to a wheelchair forever. He had a 99% chance in their estimations of never walking again – he needed to come to grips with that.
And those weren’t even the worst words Brock heard following the accident.
On that fateful Christmas Eve night, another driver ran a stop sign in northwest Ohio and struck the family vehicle headed to church for their annual holiday night service. Brock’s father David and his brothers’ girlfriend Hollis Richer were killed. It was a devastating night for a tight-knit family.
Brock had been a Ohio State Buckeye since 2004, but was shocked when the newly crowned head coach of Michigan, Rich Rodriguez, showed up in his hospital room in early 2008. Brock’s brother Elliot had just committed to play football the year prior and Rich was visiting to assure Elliot that his scholarship was still safe. According to Sports Illustrated, he then told Brock something that would forever change his life:
“How great would it be if you led us out the tunnel one of the games?”
After four months in the University of Michigan Health System, Brock went home in April 2008 to his life in a wheelchair. Then the terrible news arrived that his insurance would no longer cover outpatient medical visits since he had reached his limit of 200. Shelly, Brock’s mother, felt hopeless. “We just lived on prayer every day,” she recalled.
After a visit to see Elliot at Michigan, Brock met with Mike Barwis and the UM strength and conditioning team. The offer was made to work with Brock and help him learn to walk again. Why would a college strength coach want to help Brock out? As Mike says:
Brock would drive from his graduate classes at Ohio State to Ann Arbor, Michigan, to train five days a week. Unlike the doctors who tried to encourage Brock to accept a life without walking, Coach Barwis and his assistant Parker Whiteman demanded he walk again.
Then, on September 4, 2010, to the roar of a 113,090 cheering Michigan football fans, Brock led the Wolverines onto the field and to the giant “M” adorning midfield with his mother and brother by his side. The crowd roared joyously in celebration as Brock smiled, wearing a maize and gold t-shirt that read “Glory to God – 1%” in honor of the 1% chance doctors told him he had of walking again.
Coach Barwis summed it up best when he said:
“I’ve got plenty of faith in the two people that matter: Brock and God. I never doubted either one of them. And as far as I’m concerned those things aren’t up to statistics, they’re up to the man and God.”
1%. It ain’t much, but all a determined spirit needs is the smallest of chances in order to overcome.