“He was darling, cute red hair, darling little boy,” said Lifeflight nurse Laurie Merrick.
At six years old, Kacey McCallister was just like any other boy. He and his family had made a trip from Wyoming to Utah to attend a family church service before sending his uncle off on his mission.
That same day, December 21, 1992, his life changed forever.
“My mom and dad were standing there and they said, ‘There’s two cars coming and a truck.’ After those two cars went by I sprinted across the road,” McCallister said.
“I went through the wheels of the semi truck,” McCallister continued. “When the truck stopped, I was lying there on the pavement and my dad rushed over and held me until the ambulance showed up.”
Kacey doesn’t remember much about the horrific accident that took his legs and nearly took his life.
“I remember a white blur,” he said. “The next thing I remember is waking up in the hospital.”
The ambulance took him to a nearby hospital, and he was then flown to Primary Children’s in Salt Lake City.
Merrick had been a nurse in the PICU for two years when Kacey came through. She was working the night he got out of surgery, during which his legs had been removed.
“It was hard, I cried with him because it was sad,” Merrick said. “His legs hurt, but he didn’t have legs and no matter how much [medicine] I gave him [he said] his legs still hurt.”
“It sort of changed my life a lot,” Merrick continued. “I would just randomly start crying thinking about this cute little boy with no legs… What was going to happen? Where was he going to go?”
Life tried to throw Kacey a curveball, but he didn’t let it.
“It took time for me to build my muscles up, to be able to do what I wanted to do,” he explained. “But I was never under the impression that a guy without legs couldn’t do something.”
Kacey spent his younger years staying active in sports, he played baseball, wrestled and took part in track and field events. Now, Kacey is a full-time motivational speaker, he is an elite athlete, a cyclist, a Spartan Race competitor, a husband and a father.
“My life now is what I’ve created,” McCallister said.
Thursday, for the first time in 26 years, Kacey reunited with some of the people that helped to give him a second chance.
“They saved my life,” he said.
“I wouldn’t be able to live, I wouldn’t be able to be married, have these kids or motivate people around the world if they hadn’t done such an amazing job in making sure I would live and making sure I would live a full life.”
As a child, Kacey roamed the hospital halls with prosthetic legs and walkers. Now he is wheeling down those same halls, with a new lease on life.
“I’m living my dreams, I’ve never settled. I’ve never thought any dream was too much for me. I’ve always kept fighting, even if I started out horrible at it, I’ve kept pushing, I’ve kept fighting until I’ve achieved what I wanted to do,” McCallister said.
This all came together as part of Intermountain Lifeflight’s 41st annual conference. Kacey was asked to be the keynote speaker.
He capped off the day taking his second ride in a Lifeflight helicopter… this time, in the front seat.