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Thread: Despite accident, a storybook finish

  1. #1
    Senior Member Max's Avatar
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    Jul 2001
    Montreal,Province of Quebec, CANADA

    Despite accident, a storybook finish

    Despite accident, a storybook finish

    Cammy Clark

    Darrell Gwynn zipped through his race shop in Davie last week on some new wheels that have reached a top speed of 8 mph.

    His new state-of-the-art wheelchair is capable of going even faster, but as the 42-year-old put it with a laugh: ``My racing days are over.''

    They ended abruptly 13 years ago at 240 mph on Easter Sunday in England, when an accident in his Coors Extra Gold hot rod during an exhibition run left him paralyzed from the chest down and forced the amputation of his left arm at the elbow.

    But the memories of his racing days in the National Hot Rod Association are as fresh as ever. He spent the past 2 ½ years reliving them for a book about his life, Darrell Gwynn at Full Throttle, which was written by former USA Today motorsports reporter Erik Arneson and hit bookstores last week.

    ''Like I've said so many times before; I've got 99.9 percent good memories of my life,'' Gwynn said. ``And I have one bad day in England.''

    The 160-page book is filled with color photographs and even more colorful stories that highlight the triumphs more than the tragedies. While most of his racing buddies from the good old days asked with a bit of trepidation if Gwynn put in any of the ''bad stuff,'' one buddy put it differently: 'He told me, `I hope you didn't put in all the GOOD stuff.' ''

    Gwynn laughed some more when he conceded that some wilder parts of his life during his years as a young racer did not make the book. But for the most part it's a revealing look at his life before and after that ``one bad day in England.''

    It wasn't easy reliving the accident or the ''35 days of hell'' that followed.

    ''I was conscious through everything -- the accident, the ride to the hospital, everything,'' Gwynn said in the book. ``But if there was a time I wish I wasn't awake, it would have been when they took my arm. Hearing the big crack when the giant bolt cutters snapped my bone was not a memory I wanted to keep with me.''


    Gwynn wanted to cry because he never got the chance to find out how good he could be.

    ''Yes, unfinished business,'' he said.

    The accident also came when he was at a high in his personal life.

    He had recently become engaged to the 1990 Orange Bowl Queen and longtime family friend, Lisa.

    While the wedding got postponed, it never was canceled. And some of the most poignant parts of the book recall the couple's ordeal in having a child. Gwynn was at Jackson Memorial fighting a kidney infection while Lisa's fertility team was waiting in South Miami for Gwynn's fertility team, which needed to perform a painful procedure to get sperm. Gwynn explained it in the book this way: ``Let's just say it wasn't as much fun as the traditional way.''

    Gwynn couldn't stop smiling when he talked about the birth of his girl, or about the softball game in Reading, Pa., between NHRA and NASCAR drivers that raised $150,000 for his medical treatment.

    Gwynn said he has already heard from many people in rehab hospitals who read advanced copies of his book.


    He wanted to do the book in part to thank all the people who supported him through his ordeal. While he has been giving back as much as possible through the years, he formalized it six months ago by getting official nonprofit status for the Darrell Gwynn Foundation.

    There are three parts to the mission statement: find a cure for paralysis through the Miami Project (which, ironically, was supported by Gwynn before his accident and came to Gwynn's aid afterward); improve the quality of life for people with spinal-cord injuries (most notably by giving away $10,000 wheelchairs); and initiate education programs to prevent spinal-cord injuries.

    ''Unlike cancer, a spinal-cord injury can happen to anybody at any time,'' Gwynn said. ``But it doesn't have to stop you from living. I'm proof of that.''

  2. #2
    Thanks Max.

    Darrell Gwynn's a good guy who's helped me a couple of times.

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