DAVID SHIPLET
“A BILLBOARD IN THE MAKING”

For more than two decades there has been a continuing struggle to rid the highways of billboards—considered by so many to be trashing the beautiful natural scenery of this Nation. Upon meeting David Shiplet, one immediately has an urge to erect a billboard—one that reads “Need some sunshine n your day? Well, just call David Shiplet!” Perhaps a smiling photo displayed in color would also be appropriate for David Shiplet has outdone all the positive thinking seminar gurus by just living his life and all it has dealt him-one day at a time with a beautiful grin, infectious laugh and a twinkle in his eye.

Born forty-four years ago in Albuquerque, New Mexico on Kirkland Air Force Base, David’s life has been filled with the routine ups and downs. His formative years were spent in New Mexico, Pennsylvania and Texas. He became a long-haul driver, spent work time in a foundry, raised a daughter and pursued his hobbies of building and racing dirt-track cars, hunting, fishing and water skiing. He also developed a circle of friends who would later become a daily reminder that we are all here for each other—to love one another through all the triumphs and trials as we race around the track of life.

On August 17, 2002, David was enjoying the spray of the waters of Greenbelt Lake as he skied behind his boat, driven by his beloved Kelly. As with many life changes, David’s life very suddenly, in one split second, in one blink, changed! Hitting a sandbar, he was left lying face down unable to more with his head submerged in the water. As Kelly came to his rescue, holding his head above the water on the sandbar, the occupants of a passing fishing board called 911. Could the passing fishermen have been angels? David, to this day, does not know their identity.

Upon arrival of the paramedics, David was loaded onto a board and transported to Clarendon, where he was then airlifted to Amarillo. Suffering a broken neck and bent spinal column, the surgeons eventually had to fuse his C4 and C5 vertebrae together using a portion of his hip bone. David was left paralyzed from the neck down and yes; life suddenly had changed for this energetic young man. His first responses were slight movement of his right arm and then with the opening of his eyes, a big wink for Kelly. Perhaps this wink could be a clue to David’s very visible life spirit—vigorous, full of vitality and facing all mountains in life as something to ascend in a merry manner.

As David continued his life, settling into the realization that he had no control over his movement, he was surrounded by his foundation of friends—Mark, Jeff, Rocky, Monty, and his beloved Kelly. While David spent time at the Baylor Rehab Center in Dallas from June 2004 to August 2004, this wonderful circle of friends spent their time building a beautiful back room onto the one room in which David had been living. Their loving care for David had just begun.

Only David’s triceps, biceps, and wrist move. Someone has to lift him out of bed, bathe him, dress him, and lift him into bed. (Ponder this when you awaken, stretch, get up out of bed, and brush your teeth). Kelly was handling all the needs of David. Astutely aware that he still had a very useful brain, David was enrolled in Amarillo College. When Kelly required shoulder surgery, an outside agency was hired to attend to David’s physical needs. Funding for this outside agency was readily available as long as David was attending classes. The semester ended, however, and there was a lapse of time before the new semester began. With Kelly’s recuperation period extended, there was a great need for funds for a caregiver.

Second Chance Foundation enables the disabled to help themselves. The Foundation beams the ray of hope into a seemingly hopeless situation. Second Chance funded a caregiver for David while he waited his new challenging semester to begin.

David doesn’t just go to school. Just as Second Chance Foundation believes in caring and giving, so does David. Even though he is a quadriplegic, he gives his all to others. When the organization, Living Independently Through Education, sought David as a speaker for a fundraising luncheon, he decided he would not be comfortable speaking. However, while grasping a pen in one hand and moving it with his other fist, David signed over 150 letters of funding requests. As a follow-up, David hit the speaker button on his phone and called each individual personally.

Monty, Rocky, Jeff, Mark and Kelly remain outdoor buffs. David, with the aid of these friends, goes camping and fishing and, yes, David does fish. Using a “target fisherman” shaped like a pistol, David uses the one digit on his hand that has movement, pulls the “trigger” and shoots the line into the water. He also plays poker once a week; and to the chagrin of “the boys,” Kelly does not let them depart for the weekly game without the strict list of verbal instructions—“do this, do not do that, and don’t forget…”

The Second Chance Foundation allows David to know his physical needs will be taken care of between his school semesters. This, in turn, allows David to not only enjoy his life to the fullest, but also contribute to the quality of others’ lives.

Second Chance gives monetarily in large doses, small doses, in-between doses, depending on the need of the recipient. More importantly, Second Chance always gives a shot of spirit enabling the disabled to pursue their life in a joyful manner.

Thank you Second Chance for enabling David to continue to live in a comfortable manner. Thank you David Shiplet for being such a steadfast, yet spirited individual—an inspiration to all you meet.

David, we will be waiting for a fish fry—one large bass should make a very nice dinner!!

Life is 10% what you make it and 90% how you take it.
When there is no wind, just row.

Diann.Brown@bsahs.org