I Love Life: Walking Through Adversity
Rob Bryant, an employee of a large corporation in the oil-field business, was performing a routine operation on an oil rig. Suddenly a pulley broke and he fell 55 feet straight down.
“I fell in the sitting position. My arms and legs were still up in the air. When I hit the ground, my backbone snapped in two. I became an instant paraplegic. I also suffered many internal organ injuries and broken bones. I was struggling for 45 minutes to survive before a helicopter arrived to take me to the hospital. I fought for my life with each breath. Not wanting to die, I declared that I would live because I wanted to see my second child (my wife was eight months pregnant), if only one time.”
While in the hospital, Rob was told he would never walk again---a prognosis he refused to accept.
“Although I didn’t have movement from the waist down, I was determined to walk. Even though I was told it would be impossible, I began using braces and crutches to walk. Enough movement returned in my left leg for me to walk out of the largest rehabilitation center on the West Coast. Aside from hard work and determination, prayer gave me the strength to overcome physical challenges.”
Despite back operations, sores on his feet and serious burns from the knees down, Rob prepared for the ‘miracle walk’---an endeavor that established a Guinness World Record!
“While I was in the hospital, I took my first step, then two, five and eventually forty feet down a long hall. One year from that day, I set a goal to walk from Fort Worth to Dallas, Texas---a total of 24 miles. Sure, it was a so-called impossible goal. But, I wanted to make the trip so God could get the glory. That’s just what happened. Supported by braces and crutches, I walked 24 miles eight miles a day for 12 3-hour days. When I crossed the finish line, the most exciting part of the trip was seeing my two sons holding the finish line tape. They got to see their daddy finish what he started.”
Rob set another goal for himself. Only this trip would be a total of 3,280 miles.
“My wife bought me a row machine on wheels to stay in shape. I found myself traveling farther and farther each weekend. It had one front wheel and two back wheels. One day, I went 50 miles. It took me 10 hours pulling on the handles about 16 to 18 thousand times. I burned around 10 thousand calories.” Rob knew what he had to do. “ I learned the existing Guinness World Record for any type of row machine was 958 miles. Testosterone kicked in and the brain kicked out---I was going to break the record. Through prayer, I felt God was calling me to set another world record. I trained two and a half years. During the training, I dropped my total body fat to about 4 percent. My arms were built up to 18 inches. My chest was 52 inches. From my waist up, I was in the best shape of my life.”
The 35 year old man began his journey April 2, 1990 on the row-cycle from Los Angeles to Washington D.C.
“The adventures of the trip originated in California as I began crossing 1200 miles of desert and the Southern Rockies---facing forty to sixty mile per hours head winds and sickness. One night while bathing, my left foot was burned because I could not feel scalding hot water dripping on it. I suffered were second-degree burns. One night, my team had to fly home because of a medical emergency. It appeared the trip was over. But, it wasn’t. Ministers, friends and relatives were flying in from all over the country to encourage me to finish the trip. While rowing through Tennessee, I became really ill as the result of a 102-degree fever from a kidney infection. Once again, I could not quit. In West Virginia, I crashed the row cycle and received a mild concussion, broken toe, deep scrapes on my elbows and back and a deep puncture in my right leg. With only three hundred miles to go, I would not give up. In spite of the obstacles, I broke two Guinness records after rowing for 119 consecutive days.”
Aside from his physical talents, Rob is an accomplished Christian speaker who inspires his audiences to overcome mental paralysis.
“We all face obstacles and challenges. My message is this: Don’t worry about the entire day and all of your problems. It would be overwhelming. Here’s an example. When I was on a mountain that was 12 to 15 miles long, I didn’t think about the mountain. I thought to myself, ‘I have enough energy to row on the handles one more time.’ Concentrate on pulling on the handles just one more time with the ability God has given you. This is how we reach enormous finish lines in life.”
Added to the mixture is a positive mental attitude.
“People achieve incredible attitudes by using a sense of humor and not taking themselves too seriously. It’s also essential to finding a good support group---people who love you and encourage you. Look within and use the talents you have. Don’t worry about the things you can’t do. As a paraplegic, I have found 5 or 10 things I do well and push them to the limit. The principles I’m talking about apply in every aspect of our lives---business, social relationships and personal accomplishments.”
Rob Bryant, who has given his life to Christ, is thankful for the challenges in his life---challenges he faces with purpose, a positive mental attitude, perseverance and faith.