Well, you might as well get out the Kleenex, because this is one of those stories.
December 21, 2017, Cole Ohrt’s life changed dramatically. He was 14, a roper, an outdoor type of kid, not afraid of hard work, had a can-do attitude and a great smile.
That day was like most days for kids in the country Cole jumped on his Polaris Ranger and went over to help his uncle. But on this day, his vehicle fishtailed in the mud, flipped and the Ranger landed on his neck and fractured C2 and C3. It did not look like he would make it. They sent him to San Antonio for surgery, and the praying began.
His grandmother said what amazed her was that immediately friends were calling, offering prayers, helping with the other kids, feeding animals, etc. The family’s Christmas was spent in a hospital room in San Antonio, but friends managed to get toys and presents to the hotel room.
They moved Cole to Hermann Memorial in Houston, and therapy began. At first, lots of problems: He could not eat or drink, and they inserted a feeding tube. His breathing was labored, blood pressure problems and a trach inserted. His vocal cords work, but he whispers because of the trach. He had no movement in any part of his body except a bit of movement in his head. He was very alert, remembered everything and his brain was unaffected.
Finally, he was released to go home, but that brought new problems. But each and every problem was met with prayer, trust and good friends. The nurses were tender, respectful, funny and good at what they did. The parents, Garrett and Julie, were constantly working with Cole and his physical therapy.
But what about Cole’s state of mind through all of this? You see, Cole is an amazing Christian. He told his grandmother and others that he doesn’t like “what has happened to him, but if it brings people to God, I need to endure it.” How does a 14-year-old boy think like that? How does anyone think like that? At one point he said, “So sorry, Granny, that I am such a bother, I don’t want to be. Maybe I was not praying enough.”
I don’t even know what to do with that except pull out another Kleenex.
Janice Ohrt, his grandmother, is a very special lady of faith. She talks about what a great kid he is, how proud she is of her son and wife, but mainly, she talks about the countless miracles that have happened, the faithful friends, the prayers, the food train, the gifts and company. The Hewitt family gave them a wonderful hospital bed, famous ropers came over to the hospital when he was in Houston to see him, someone donated an expensive generator and the community threw an amazing fundraiser at Schroeder Hall.
Bill and I went to the fundraiser, probably one of the best I have ever attended. We parked in a pasture down the street, and they shuttled us to the event. Things that were worth $50 went for $500. People donated furniture, farm animals, saddles, purses, perfume; you name it, it was there. Hundreds and hundreds showed up all with the purpose of helping this young man. Cole was there smiling, and I had to look away because no one else was crying.
During all of this, Julie Ohrt was researching all over the U.S., and Cole began to have quite a following himself. They received calls from people who had loved ones who were paralyzed. They discovered a doctor in China who was having great results with spinal injuries. MRIs, X-rays and information were exchanged.
Meanwhile, an American doctor here told them that the spinal cord had atrophied and there was no hope. I don’t think doctors always get a mother’s love and the power of prayer.
March 26, the parents and Cole flew to the city of Kunming, China, hoping and praying for yet another miracle. The first miracle was that the Chinese doctors had looked at all the MRIs and other material and were expecting the spinal cord to be much worse. It had thick scar tissue compressing it, they removed this, injected stem cells and things started happening.
Cole regained a little sensation in areas of his arms and torso. He is in the process of trying to strengthen his diaphragm and wean himself off the ventilator so he can breathe on his own. Before Cole left for the trip, he regained the ability to eat normal food. They started him on a walking robot which mimics walking, and he rides an automated bike each day to get his legs moving.
The plan is that they will give him more stem cells in next few months. He is a bit of a local celebrity and has been on their local news. The family will probably be in China for six months.
When I hear about a tragedy like this, I find myself wanting to meet with God and ask him, “Why?” Why not let this happen to some lousy murderer or no-good criminal? Why this sweet boy and his family?
Maybe Janice has discovered the answer. She feels blessed to have a faith that sustains her. She trusts and knows that it will turn out good. She feels blessed by family and friends. She sees a wonderful community who loves unconditionally and has helped them so much. Cole has trust in Jesus, believes he is part of God’s plan and continues to ask for healing. He sees his injury as a way to help others.
Maybe the real miracle is seeing perfect strangers pray for a young boy they will never know. Maybe it is in the gratefulness parents feel when they hear about Cole and hug their child who can run and move. Maybe Cole will inspire someone who is down to realize that life is not so bad. Maybe it’s seeing people donate money so Cole has a chance to walk again. Maybe some of us need to have a real hero in our lives who trusts in spite of overwhelming odds.
Cowboy Tough, Cole Strong! Please remember those words and pray.