A Walking Miracle!
It was just a simple back flip on a trampoline. It was no big deal for Dr. Skip Redd, assistant pastor at University Church (AG) as well as band and choir instructor at Life High School in Waxahachie, Texas. Yes, he was 62 years old, but he was a trampoline fanatic and had done thousands, if not tens of thousands, of back flips over the years — he even had his own competition trampoline at home that he practiced on.
But in a split second, on April 6, 2017, while leading an end-of-year party at a local trampoline park for 106 choir and band students from Life High School, the “no big deal” found Skip lying on his back, unable to move.
Having developed “all sorts of trampoline tricks and shows” over the years, Skip had promised the students a demonstration at the party, including doing flips for them.
As students crowded around a large trampoline at the indoor park, urging Skip on, he warmed up a bit and then began by attempting a front flip, but failed to land on his feet. Noting to himself that he needed to get higher, he then attempted a back flip.
“I went to do the back flip, and half way around, down I came crashing on my head,” Skip recalls. “I just laid there, stunned. Embarrassed that I didn’t complete the flip and land on my feet. I couldn’t move.”
Unknown to him at the time, Skip had fractured and dislocated the C6 and C7 vertebrae at the base of his neck and injured his spinal column — the reason he was paralyzed from the chest down. Fortunately, despite Skip wanting his daughter to drive him to the hospital to avoid the expense of an ambulance — which he now laughs about — all precautions were taken to avoid any potential further injury.
An ambulance delivered Skip to the local hospital, which then airlifted him to Methodist Hospital in Dallas. The CAT scan and MRI results were far from comforting.
After consulting the scans, a trauma doctor at the hospital was brusque. Glancing at Skip’s legs he stated flatly, “You’ll never use those again.”
“Even though the bones were broken and dislocated, they had impacted the spinal cord, which basically cut the signals from my brain to the rest of my body,” Skip explains. “The doctors told me prior to the surgery, that I would be a quadriplegic the rest of my life.”
A neurosurgeon and team operated on Skip for more than eight hours that night. Realigning the spinal column and supporting the vertebrae with titanium rods, plates, and screws, the surgery was considered a success.
The good news?
“I was told that perhaps, after completing extensive therapy, I may be able to use my right arm well enough to feed myself,” Skip says.
While the doctors were convinced that Skip’s future was going to be limited, at best, to a sophisticated motorized wheelchair, the Redd family was of a far different mindset.
As Skip was being wheeled into surgery that first night, Chip, his 36-year-old son, whispered encouragement into his ear, “Dad, don’t listen to them — think about God, think about His promises, think about His Scriptures. Forget what the doctors said and focus on what God can do!”
But the Redd family wasn’t the only ones praying and believing. Literally within minutes of the accident occurring, prayer lines were being contacted and with 106 students and cell phones surrounding him, posts, texts, and tweets about “Dr. Redd” were going out by the scores.
The news quickly spread to faculty and students at Southeastern University in Lakeland, Florida, and Southwestern Assembly of God University in Waxahachie, Texas, where Skip previously taught, with personal contacts and social media posts exponentially increasing from there. Thousands were praying for him!
“Even the nurse in the helicopter, she was from a Baptist church,” Skip says. “She had her church praying for me.”
Within days of the surgery and their dismal prognosis for Redd, doctors were stunned when Skip suddenly was able to wiggle his toes and do a few things with his legs — that shouldn’t be happening!
“Nerve damage doesn’t heal in days,” Skip says, “At best it occurs over many months, if at all, and the doctors didn’t believe this would ever happen, especially not for my legs.”
Claudia, Skip’s wife of 41 years, says that throughout this entire experience, she’s been aware of prayer for Skip and herself. “I could almost visually see the Holy Spirit giving me strength and seeing me through,” she said. “It was almost as if the Holy Spirit put us in a cocoon and was shielding us.”
From toes wiggling, Skip has made a slow but steady progression. “Slow” is more of a word Skip uses. His doctors and nurses are seeing progress at an unheard of rate for a spinal injury. Since the injury occurred in April, Skip has progressed to using a wheelchair, then a walker, now a cane, and then within the last week or so, his therapist had him try a short run — the therapist was amazed at how well he did!
Not bad for someone who would “never” be able to use his legs again!
“Skip escaped death by God’s hand,” states retired AG missionary, Marvin Gilbert, who makes his home in Waxahachie. “Every time I see him, whether at church or in the gym, Skip is making visible progress!”
“To me, the most amazing thing is, I’ve never felt any fear, and neither has Skip,” Claudia says. “Maybe we were both naïve, but we weren’t ever afraid that he would never walk again — I feel like that was from the Lord.”
Skip, who admits that when he was first injured, he was thinking that in a few weeks, everything would be just fine, credits the countless prayers and the healing touch of God on his life.
However, as Claudia observes, although people around Skip are stunned by his progress since the accident, Skip struggles not to compare his condition to before the accident, so there are still challenges to overcome.
Doctors say that even with the hardware in his neck, Skip should regain nearly full range of motion. Skip also hopes the timetable to his return to teaching at Life High School will continue to move up so he can return before the end of the school year.
“So many people have told me how inspirational, encouraging, and uplifting Skip’s ongoing recovery has been to them,” Claudia says. “There are a lot of people, including at the hospital and online, who are watching Skip’s progress who aren’t saved . . . when we give the Lord the credit, they can’t deny it. Skip is a testimony to God’s faithfulness and healing power.”
There are many moments that God confirmed and displayed His compassion, love, and power to the Redds, but one in particular comes to Skip’s mind. Following the surgery, a nurse came in, leaned over, and whispered to him, “There’s a miracle in this room — put your name on it.”
Evidently, he did.