2 years after a ski accident paralyzed him, Hunter Pinke refuses to have “bad days” – InForum

ASHLEY, ND – In 2016, the gymnasium at Ashley Public School was the home of Hunter Pinke, his favorite basketball court. On the morning of Tuesday, January 4, he was back, this time with an audience of very attentive high school students.

“Let’s be clear,” the Wishek native and former Southern Border Mustang said with a smile. “No, I can’t dunk.” He was in a wheelchair.

Two years earlier, two days after Christmas, the University of North Dakota tight end was on its back in the snow in Keystone, Colorado, after a violent collision with another skier and then a tree, paralyzed from chest to chest. feet. And that’s how it all started.

Here, you mean finished, don’t you? No, started.

“You still have a future,” her mother, Katie, told her at the Denver hospital, “It’s just not the future you anticipated.”

Hunter Pinke’s future after his speech to Ashley was an afternoon lecture to Napoleon, and from there to Hettinger, where a student recently committed suicide in class.

Its message is a student-to-student awareness message, a reminder that all around us people are suffering and that a kind word or action at the right time can change everything.

Pinke recently completed a three-week tour of North Dakota schools before returning to the University of Arizona for her next semester of graduate studies in architecture.

Spend an hour with the charismatic Pinke and you’ll believe that you can do anything, or at least something, to improve someone’s life, and in the process, yours.

First of all, let’s clarify something else.

“I’m not a motivational speaker,” Pinke said. And he doesn’t live in a van by the river. In fact, when he learned that most paraplegics travel by minibus, his answer was “not me”.

He drives a black Ford F-150 with manual controls, a lift and a boom to load himself and his wheelchair.

Two years after a skiing accident in Colorado left him paralyzed, Hunter Pinke visited area schools to talk to students about the possibility of reaching out.

Contribution / Tony Bender

One woman called his speeches ministry, a term Hunter rejects, perhaps sounding too religious, and he knows that can be a rubbish. Maybe the word shouldn’t be so branded or defined so narrowly, though.

After all, ministry can come in a number of ways: a coming home after a hard day of a slobbery dog, a word of encouragement out of nowhere that you didn’t know you needed until he did. comes along, and hell, he might show up with a bun man in a wheelchair.

The man leaned over his lying body to apologize. “Are you doing OK?”

“No, I don’t think so, then,” Pinke said. He had tried to stand before, first convinced that he was somehow stuck, maybe by tree branches, then realizing he wasn’t. “Are you Christian?” he asked the man from Nashville.


“I think we should pray,” Pinke said. “I prayed on this mountain, and since then I have peace. Fear and anxiety did not catch up with me.

After all, it could have been worse, the doctor told him after seeing footage of the GoPro camera strapped to Pinke’s now battered helmet. Right before hitting the tree, Pinke lowered her head, right spine, and instead of breaking his neck and making him quadriplegic or killing him instantly, the force crushed the spine in the middle of it. Her chest.

“What made you bow your head at the last minute?” Asked the doctor.

“Footballer’s instinct”.

“Well maybe football saved your life. “

Pinke explores the old adage, the question, is the glass half full or half empty, only with a fresh glimpse. All eyes in the stands are on him. Bank. The glass becomes a metaphor for life, and his eyes scan the faces knowing that somewhere up there, someone needs to hear that message.

If only he had gotten to Hettinger sooner. Or LaMoure, or any other small town, to light up the shadows, to ease the feeling of hopelessness and silent hopelessness.

His glass may have seemed almost empty, but slowly, drip, it was filled by annoying nurses, legions of friends and strangers wearing Pinke Strong shirts in the gyms where he had once been the one. opposition, thanks to the support of his family. , gifts, prayers and, yes, more than a few tears.

“If you’re thinking of dropping that drink, don’t,” he says to a child who needs to hear that. “Somehow – I don’t know how – but it’s going to be filled.

“I have a full glass,” he said, “It would be a shame if I didn’t share it. ”

He pours water into an invisible glass. It splashes the ground.

“I challenge you to make a difference,” he said. To reach out to the calm and unpopular child. Be a friend. “To be a little uncomfortable.”

Silence. Not a cough. Not a noise in the stands.

“Do you know what’s really uncomfortable?” “

He drops the bottle.

In a way, it gets even quieter.

Doctors said he would never walk again. He believes he will. It could take 10 or 20 years, he said, but with the advancement of medicine and the strength of will, who will doubt Hunter Pinke? The doctors were also wrong on another point.

“You are going to have good days and bad days,” they insisted.

“No”, he maintained. He refused to have a bad day. They made compromises. They agreed he might have a rough day.

“What’s important on a tough day, however,” he said, “is that a good day is just around the corner.”

Then come the questions from the stands. Does he plan to ski again?

“Go to. The tree won the battle. I need to win the war. I have to cut this thing! He smiles. No, smiles.

Did he meet the man he collided with? No, but he thinks he will someday. He does not bear him any animosity. “He didn’t see me, and I didn’t see him.”

And finally, the big one, if he could, would he change that day? Would he stop at the top for the photo he was too eager to wait? This delay may have changed everything. Would he have stayed out of the deep powder and far from the blissful silence of the pines?

“No. Who am I to disturb God’s plan?”

He’s competing again, now in wheelchair basketball and road racing with an eye on the Paralympic Games. He lost the use of his legs, but he gained so much more – glimpses of enlightenment at age 24 and a powerful new goal. At the moment, Hunter Pinke cannot walk. But he fled.

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