Man finds new lease on life after accident leaves him paralyzed - WSMV News 4

Man finds new lease on life after accident leaves him paralyzed

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Rick Slaughter sits on his bike with his dog, Mable. (WSMV) Rick Slaughter sits on his bike with his dog, Mable. (WSMV)

This story is for everyone who thinks they got a raw deal – something that happened to change their lives.

For Rick Slaughter, that moment came on the road right in front of the governor’s mansion.

“I was coming down Franklin Road,” Slaughter said, “took a left on Curtiswood, made the first curve, made the second and then on the third turn to the right, I got too far over. The front end hit the mailbox. The back end swung around and hit a tree, and then my car went airborn, flipped three times and I landed on the other side of the driveway in a creek.

“My legs were wrapped around the steering wheel. It was pretty scary. Right then, I knew something was wrong.”

That was June 22, 1979. Slaughter had just turned 17 the week before. He was in a hurry to get home after a date. He was speeding.

“That’s why I’m here now,” Slaughter said.

He’s now paralyzed from the waist down.

“[In the photo,] my parents are standing behind me and trying to survive. Put a smile on, but I was not a happy man.” Slaughter continued, “For the first nine or 10 years, drugs and alcohol were my survival, and I did that so that I would not feel the pain and the anger and sadness of not being able to walk.”

Somewhere along the way, another man in a wheelchair talked to Rick - a former high school standout tennis player – to try wheelchair basketball. And he did.

“And through wheelchair basketball, I learned about wheelchair tennis, and the rest is history.”

That history included winning the national wheelchair doubles title and the world wheelchair racketball championship.

“At that point in time, I knew that I needed to do something else and start giving back. It wasn’t all about me and what I could do anymore,” Slaughter said.

Realizing there were other kids in wheelchairs left out of sports, he founded ABLE Youth, which stands for “athletes building life experiences.”

“Through becoming sober and turning my life over to God, I knew it wasn’t about me.”

And now, even though it’s some 38 years later, he’s still pushing the envelope to prove a point and taking his dog, little Mable, along with him.

“Are you sure she likes this?” Rudy asked.

“Oh yes, and her little goggles – just slip them on and she’s ready to roll, baby,” Slaughter said.

“I love it,” Slaughter said, “I love that bike. It’s really opened my life again. One more thing that I can do, even though I’m in a chair. Let’s show the world that life is good whether you’re sitting down or not.”

“If you told me I could walk tomorrow, I would say no,” Slaughter said. “I’ve been able to help too many people along the way, and I know this is where I’m supposed to be.”

If you have a suggestion for a person with a unique story, just go to the Real People with Rudy page.

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