Hector Picard stood in what he once referred to as a torture chamber on July 1 and talked about his redemption.
Twenty years ago, Picard ended up at a HealthSouth rehabilitation hospital in Florida similar to the one that recently opened in Littleton. The facility on Mineral Avenue was a stop on his 3,274-mile journey from Miami to Spokane to prove people who are missing limbs can overcome. And he wants to help one little guy in particular do just that.
Baby Jameson Davis was born April 12 of last year with no arms below the elbow. Along his journey, Picard is accepting donations to help Jameson’s family with the $1.3 million it will take to keep him in prosthetic arms for the next 18 years.
“Jameson was born with no hands or forearms, but a wonderful smile and a zest for life,” says Picard. “Due to the high cost of prosthetics, the Davises are struggling to provide Jameson with the latest technology to afford him the same opportunities every able-bodied child deserves.”
Picard says he just wants to show Jameson that once upon a time, somebody just like him did something that only a few people have done.
In 1992, Picard was an electrician. He made the tragic mistake of climbing the wrong transformer on a job site one day. He caught fire, fell two stories and woke up in a hospital a month later missing one arm and half of the other.
“Why me?” he wondered at the time. “I lived a good life, I was a good person, I helped people. So why did this have to happen to me?”
It was a hard path from there to today, but he set out with resolve.
“I use one word to describe my experience in rehab: torture,” he said. “But it was all in hopes of getting my life back and being a husband and father to my child.”
His kids have been a huge motivation, he said. When babies cry, they want to be held, fed or have a new diaper — all of which take hands. Of course, Picard had to figure out how to feed and clothe and do things for himself, too.
“I just have obstacles,” he said. “We stop ourselves from realizing our goals, because we just have dumb ideas.”
To say he overcame them is putting it mildly. In 2009, he ran his first triathlon. Last month, he finished his 75th. In August 2012, he became the first double-arm amputee Iron Man, with 18 minutes to spare. The same year, he cycled 1,500 miles from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., to New York City to celebrate the 20th anniversary of his second chance at life.
He did it all with the help of his prosthetic arm, which not only responds to electrical impulses in his arm to help him do normal hand things, but also spins completely around a la The Exorcist kid.
“Coolest bar trick ever,” he said. “I think of it as a tool versus my hand. I’ll never get my hand back.”
David Shefte, CEO of HealthSouth, kicked in a check for $10,000 toward baby Jameson’s future arms.
“Picard is an inspiration to not only our employees, but also to our patients who are recovering,” he said.
Those patients include Thornton resident Eddie Lindhorst, who nearly lost his leg in a motorcycle accident in Florida.
“I went there to do yoga, get centered and drop some weight, and I end up wrecking a motorcycle, and boom,” he said. Six years and 59 surgeries later, he’s still in and out of rehab.
“People say I’m an inspiration,” he said. “I don’t get it. It’s just doing the next right thing. God’s not done with me yet.”
Lindhorst is even more inspired by people who are even worse off — kids in burn units and their families, for example.
“Somebody out there would like to have my problems, so it’s all relative,” he said.
For more information or to donate, visit www.dontstopliving.org.