Response to tragic injury is positive attitude, gratitude


11:32 PM CDT on Saturday, October 13, 2007





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Joe Beene is sitting in the balcony of his church, sleeping through a sermon, when a voice wakes him.
"You're going into the ministry."
His reply is quick.
"No, I'm not."
Beene, a senior at Odessa Permian, has no doubts as to who started the conversation. He tells disbelieving friends as much. But his belief doesn't make him any more inclined to listen, or act. Not if it means the ministry.
Four months pass. Beene is participating in the seniors' last practice before a season-ending game against cross-town rival Odessa. A tight end breaks into the clear. Beene, a 5-8, 165-pound linebacker, meets him head up, square in the chest, just like he's taught.
Only Beene's head rolls back and his neck hyperextends. He goes down. Flat on his back, his eyes search, pleading for help.
He can't talk, can't move, can't breathe. Seven minutes pass.
A lifetime ...
The next thing Beene knows, it's the following day, and he's being transferred to a Dallas hospital. He remembers nothing of the accident in practice, only what everyone tells him.
You went seven minutes without breathing.
You should be brain dead.
You're paralyzed from the neck down.
With no other choice left, Beene can only listen. To his doctors. To his family.
To the voice in the balcony ...
Seven years pass. Beene is two semesters from a degree in history at UT-Permian Basin. At least twice a month, he speaks to groups through an organization called Students Against Violence Everywhere. Talking isn't easy, either. Finally weaned off a ventilator, he uses a device called a pacer to help him breathe. Every couple of words, he draws a sharp breath. Still, he goes anywhere to tell his story.
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