Visit with injured Bull Rider Lee Akin and Mary Akin.
For the most recent update on Lee and Mary (as of October 2008) click HERE.
Just looking at Lee Akin across a table in Lucille’s Roadhouse in Weatherford, Oklahoma you would never know that his skull was crushed in a bull riding accident less than 8 months ago. He looks great, he feels great and in fact he is great. That he is able to even sit up is a miracle.
But what makes his recovery even more of a miracle is that he is able to walk and play with his daughter Jada, something that seemed impossible at the time of his accident during the Southeastern Livestock Exposition and Rodeo in Montgomery, Alabama last March 8th.
According to Mary Akin, Lee’s beautiful and energetic wife (she had just run a half marathon in New Mexico the weekend before our visit), no one in the medical community gave him much of a shot at living, let alone living with his family in their western style home, filled with pictures and buckles from Lee’s successful rodeo career. Mary told us the doctors say Lee’s progress is way ahead of anything they would have predicted if they would have predicted recovery at all.
There is no question that Mary is a major reason for Lee’s recovery (see her MySpace page here). If you are around her for any time at all you see that she is has amazing faith in her Father and her conviction that He would heal Lee has kept them both going, even when the human odds were stacked against them. A mutual friend who knows Mary well told me “she never says anything negative, never gets down and just walks in faith everyday.” That was certainly true in the time we were with them.
In the four hours my wife Linda, my brother Mike, sister in law Vicky and I spent with the Akin’s last week, Mary was the consummate optimist, but her optimism wasn’t some phony “rose colored glasses” optimism but a sure conviction that God was going to give her husband back to her, whole and healthy. She spoke with confidence and gratefulness about how well things were going and many times during our conversation she gave all the glory to her Father for His healing grace.
Last April, Linda and I stood with the Trinity Fellowship family in Sayre, Oklahoma (the Akin’s church family), extended our hands toward Montgomery, Alabama and prayed for Lee’s healing and for Mary’s strength. There is no doubt in anyones mind, especially Lee and Mary’s, that prayer is what has turned Lee’s recovery from no hope to a conviction of full recovery.
Lee is working hard to get all the way back. Each day means a morning trip to either physical or speech therapy and the day we met with Lee they were just back from a trip to the speech therapist. Lee has no trouble understanding what you ask him but he still struggles to get the words from his brain to his tongue. The injury was to the side of his brain that controls speech, so forming words is something he is having to relearn. But with a little patience and some real effort on his part he is able to answer your question. He still walks with a slight limp but that too is getting better. This kind of therapy is very hard work and leaves Lee tired from this daily regiment but he still works out on the treadmill, takes walks outside, plays with his daughter and is doing the hard work necessary for full recovery.
Mary’s patience is amazing. A physical trainer in top condition herself, she is balancing the care of Jada, their energetic 1 year old, household and financial responsibilities along with the the extra effort it takes to keep Lee going. There is no doubt Lee is working hard to gain full recovery but without Mary along side it probably would not be happening as quickly as it is. Mary will have an opportunity to share her story at the PBRO Sunday worship service this coming Sunday in Las Vegas. If you are in Las Vegas for the PBR Finals don’t miss it (location of service here)
There is still a long road ahead of for Lee, Mary and Jada. Lee’s physical healing is moving steadily ahead but there are many months of therapy yet to come. No one doubts, least of all Mary, that Lee will one day be able to do whatever he chooses to do, but it is going to take time and incredible patience from both of them.
When I asked Mary what she needed and what we could do for her, she was quick to respond, “Don’t stop praying”. But as I pressed her for more she reluctantly mentioned concern for finances and how they would be able to make it when some current resources were no longer available. However, even as she mentioned the need she mentioned how grateful she was for the tremendous support they have already received from the rodeo community, sponsors, family, friends, people they don’t even know and of course their church family. What amazed us was her confidence that it would all work out and she was not worried about it. She even laid out plans for returning to her work as a physical trainer when the time was right.
I know our visit to the Akin’s brought some encouragement and support to Mary and gave Lee some of the mental stimulation he needs, but the four of us who came to visit with them received the greater blessing. Courage like the courage Lee and Mary display does not magically appear when disaster strikes. Trusting in God with this kind of faith was built into their lives during months and years of reading God’s Word, prayer, relationship with a great church family and striving to live each day in step with the Spirit. The faith and courage we witnessed in Mary was birthed long before the accident through her commitment to follow Jesus everyday in good times and bad.
If you are interested in helping the Akin family in a financial way, the Pro Bull Riding Outreach, led by former bull riding world champion Cody Custer, is a place you can send gifts and be sure the entire gift will go to Lee and Mary. Please go to Cody’s website here if you want more information. You can also send gifts to Trinity Fellowship PO Box 452, Sayre, OK 73662. Please put Lee and Mary Akin in the message line of your check. All gifts are tax deductible and will go in there entirety to the Akin family.
For more pictures of the Akin family click here.
(all pictures by Vicky Scandrett)