John Miranda was an aspiring runner until he lost the ability to move his legs. John grew up running around with his friends and jumping around the house. He could never sit still and was the type of kid a mother always had to keep an eye on. He loved going to school and was a total social butterfly. Learning was hard for him unless it was a hands-on method but gym was his favorite class.
As soon as he was able to, he was participating in sports and after school activities. His family always thought he would never stop jumping around until a horrible day in December of 1999. He was twenty three when he was in a horrendous accident that paralyzed him from the waist-down.
Throughout high school he was on cross country, track, and lacrosse and continued track in college. “I ran the fastest 800 [meter] at my college,” Miranda reminisces about his childhood. Running was an outlet for him while he was growing up. It allowed him to clear his mind and release all the energy he had. His favorite spot to run was a trail by his house that led to a beautiful lake. “I used to run it at least five times a week.”
Miranda was driving home from a dinner with friends when the car accident happened. It was late at night and the roads were slightly iced. A car was heading in the opposite direction on the other side of the road when a deer started to run across the street. To avoid the deer, the driver swerved, but in doing so, crossed the yellow lines and crashed head first into Miranda’s car. The airbags went off and his car flipped onto the side of the road, narrowly missing a pole. Miranda talks about the traumatic experience and says “I didn’t realize I was hurt at first, I couldn’t feel any pain.” He was removed from the car and put in an ambulance. He fell in and out of consciousness throughout the journey to the hospital.
At the hospital he was put through three surgeries and was placed in an induced coma for six days. It was said that if his car had hit the pole, he would have died immediately. When Miranda awoke from the coma, he could neither feel nor move his legs. He started panicking and yelling and a nurse had to rush in to calm him down. Once he met with his doctor, he received the despairing news. He would never be able to walk again.
The accident had shattered his vertebrae and he was lucky to be alive. For Miranda however, it felt like his life had ended. His passion and his future career path lay in shambles and he didn’t feel like his life had any purpose. “ I ignored my family and refused to live my life.” He stopped attending college and didn’t leave his house. Running was his outlet to blow off steam and think. Now, he was angry at his situation and had no way to calm down. Finally, his sister decided to stop letting him feel sorry for himself and refused to leave his house until Miranda came with her. She sat him in his wheelchair and took him to a nearby park. They had a meaningful talk and Miranda decided to continue college and have a more optimistic outlook on his life.
He became a fitness trainer despite his condition and helped other people stay in shape.
“After my accident I thought that I couldn’t do that anymore because of my disability. But I stayed in shape and was able to overcome the obstacles in my job. I make sure to give all clients a warning about my condition…” despite having an occupation where most people can stand, Miranda fought for the life he wanted to live and the career he wanted to lead.
The gym where he works is also where he met his wife, Carly. He was at the gym all the time, either training others or exercising for himself. His future wife had come in to ask about a membership and they started talking and eventually went on a date. When asked how Carly felt about his disability she responded, “. I wasn’t sure how to deal with his disability or if I would come off as rude if I asked him about it. After talking to him only a few times, he told me he’d been in a car accident without me having to ask. It was a lot easier from there because I knew that he didn’t mind if I asked him questions.” Miranda was very open about his condition and chose to confront it instead of cower away from it.
Carly had to learn to handle situations when Miranda got frustrated. “He doesn’t always want my help and I’ve had to learn to respect that.” They both had to figure out how to coexist and although they faced obstacles, they loved each other and would always love each other. Because of Miranda’s wheelchair, their living arrangements had to be altered. Things are lower to the ground and seemingly normal tasks can take a lot of effort for Miranda. Having the support of his wife has been a huge help for him.
Miranda thought his life was over when his car accident happened. He now knows that he still has much of his life to live and is happy to be living it. His story inspires his friends and family and everybody else that hears it. Miranda will continue to live happily despite his disability and chooses to look on the bright side instead of sitting in the dark.