Don't call her disabled -- Stephanie Decker makes a new life

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Tuesday marks seven months since the deadly March 2nd tornadoes.  WDRB's Lindsay Allen caught up with the woman who's been adjusting to life as a double amputee ever since. 

Her story is one that's been told over and over again since March.  At her gym in Clarksville, Indiana, Stephanie Decker demonstrated how she is taking life on her new pair of prosthetic legs.

She described the moment the tornado struck, "One window broke and I knew, and I said to myself, 'Oh my Lord, my house is going down this tornado is going to take us out'...The pillars, the steel beams....fell right on my leg...Large amounts of blood started to come out and at that point I knew either my leg was severed or it was barely attached."

Nowadays, as you see her walking into the gym, you understand why Stephanie Decker lives by the phrase..."No excuses".

Every day is a new challenge, but in Stephanie's eyes every day is another chance to prove them all wrong. For example, a physical therapist told her a few weeks back she'd never be able to stand on a gym balance ball.

"We took it from balancing on it with nothing, and then she said, 'Lets try some weights this time' and I'm like, 'Are you kidding?'"

She credits her trainer, Mindy Smith, who is unabashedly tough.  Smith says, "We're going to do anything everybody else would do, and we're going to figure out how to do it and neither one of us are afraid of messing up or falling or saying, 'Oh, that didn't work.'"

Decker says, "I've got to be able to stay in shape, be able to stand on these legs.  Four to five hours I can spend on these legs, and that's about the equivalent of 16 hours on your legs.  So I have to build up to where I can be all day on these legs and the only way to do that is to be in shape. So I've got to be here."

When she's not at the gym, she's in physical therapy where she's working on fine-tuning skills that are necessary for life as a Mom.  That includes, she says,"The bending down to pick up the laundry basket or walking up steps...It's leaps and bounds every day."

When asked, "Have you ever said, why did this happen to me?" Decker replied, "Not once. I kinda made a deal with God that day. I was making that last prayer before I was rescued was, I won't ask why. I'll figure out what the message is and I will do it."

Since the accident, Stephanie has danced with Ellen Degeneres, met with President Obama, and started her own foundation.

Her newfound passion is helping children with prosthetics learn how to play sports and helping them gain access to new prosthetic technology:  "You know, we all kind of think I guess, we'd like to make our mark one day in society. Not in a selfish way but we want to make a mark and I feel like this is my mark. This is what I was meant to do and I'm excited about that -- that something from a bad situation we can make something really good and help a lot of people."

Despite everything she's been through, Decker chooses only to keep smiling.  "Really, I just want to get back to how I was before. I just want to be in shape."

Decker is all about setting goals. One is to walk in high heels again, which she says she hopes to do in about a year.  "I'm getting ready to try a new pair of prosthetic feet where with a new app on your phone I'll be able to adjust heel height.  So you can change it, if you're going to wear three-inch heels you can change the height on your feet."

With every day that passes, life becomes a bit more normal.  The accident brought her and her husband closer -- her children, as well.  Decker says, "They've adjusted really well. Back to school, back with friends. Mom getting back to normal helps them get back to normal."

Don't call her disabled -- she says she isn't. She is just going through life down a different path:  "This is just a new way of living.  This doesn't mean your life stops because you've had an accident and lost your legs. I always say if the worst thing that ever happens is me losing my legs I am good. You know, we count our blessings we know how lucky we are from that day."

Stephanie Decker is now a highly sought-after motivational speaker and is writing a new book.  She is even entertaining offers to turn her story into a movie.

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