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Winona man has survived several brushes with death

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  • Richard D. Hendricks
    Winona man has survived several brushes with death *
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 3, 2012
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      Winona man has survived several brushes with death

      * Story<http://lacrossetribune.com/news/local/winona-man-has-survived-several-brushes-with-death/article_336ebb66-3501-11e1-9d19-0019bb2963f4.html?mode=story>
      * Discussion<http://lacrossetribune.com/news/local/winona-man-has-survived-several-brushes-with-death/article_336ebb66-3501-11e1-9d19-0019bb2963f4.html?mode=comments>

      By Jennifer Holt Winona Daily News <http://lacrossetribune.com/search/?l=50&sd=desc&s=start_time&f=html&byline=By%20Jennifer%20HoltWinona%20Daily%20News> | Posted: Monday, January 2, 2012 12:00 am |<http://lacrossetribune.com/news/local/winona-man-has-survived-several-brushes-with-death/article_336ebb66-3501-11e1-9d19-0019bb2963f4.html?mode=comments>


      WINONA, Minn. - The brushes with death don't add up to nine, but there have been far too many of them.

      A barn roof collapsed on Kevin Spalding while he stacked hay. He fell through the ice during a fishing trip. He was caught in a power take-off on his family's farm in Homer Ridge, where he also fell out of a hay loft and was involved in a car accident that killed his younger sister.

      Then, in 1996, he fell off his roof while trying to adjust a TV antenna and landed directly on his head. His then-wife Stacey and two children were told he would remain in a vegetative state.

      Fifteen years later Kevin is walking, driving, and cracking subtle jokes about his brushes with death.

      "It wasn't the fall that hurt me, it was the sudden stop at the bottom," he said.

      The 44-year-old Winona native spent a few weeks in a coma after the accident. The doctors diagnosed him with a traumatic brain injury and told him he had a 1 percent chance of ever walking again or regaining his memory.

      When hope and determination were all he had left, Kevin made the impossible possible.

      Today, Kevin spends most of his time helping others. He collects pop tabs for dialysis and box tops for local schools. He buys bags of candy, just to give them away. He's an avid card player at the Winona Senior Friendship Center, VFW and the Valley View Tower.

      "I have a hard time sitting and doing nothing," he said. "I'm a people person. I enjoy giving back.

      "If someone has the opportunity to help someone else, do it, please, because you never know when you're going to need it."

      Bob Doerer, a lifetime member of the Winona Lions Club, said Kevin has come a long way since joining the organization four years ago. Kevin's determination, more than anything else, is inspiring, he said.

      "He tries to participate in everything we do," Doerer said. "There are times when we go door-to-door for activities or fundraising, and that's hard on him, but he's always making the effort."

      Kevin said he couldn't be happier being a part of an organization that gives him an outlet to give back to the community that supported him and his family throughout troubled times.

      Kevin's mother, Donna, said watching her son overcome his limitations has opened her eyes and mind to the ways people act around those with a disability.

      She remembers how strangers - and a few former acquaintances-would treat Kevin after his brain injury.

      "People would look at him as if he was a completely different person inside and out," she said.

      Donna still sees the son she has known all her life, and in him sees the drive he's always had to help others.

      "The people who meet him know who he is, and he's proud that people know him," she said. "He deserves it."

      Kevin was a volunteer firefighter for three different departments, in Winona, Pickwick and Ridgeway, and before his injury he was a part-time Winona firefighter. Winona Fire Capt. Kim Bartelson said Kevin was always energetic, a busybody who wanted to be a part of everything.

      "He has made a lot out of his life, post-accident," Bartelson said.

      Particularly for a guy who's used most of his nine lives. Kevin was never supposed to walk again. Another life used. But for Kevin, it seems as if the more lives he uses the more life he gets, because his experiences have taught him to live by a simple wisdom.

      "Don't take anything for granted. You never know when the next minute is going to change everything."

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      Posted in Local<http://lacrossetribune.com/news/local> on Monday, January 2, 2012 12:00 am Updated: 7:13 am.

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