MANHATTAN, Kan. (WIBW) -- David Van Bebber is defying the odds.
The 29-year-old pastor and instructor at Missouri State University came home for the summer to help with his family's business when he fell from the top of the Geary Community Hospital in Junction City on May 27, 2013.
"I was helping my dad do some window cleaning and I was showing the other workers how to use a repelling device and so I demonstrated by going off the building and I just had a freak accident and the rope broke," Van Bebber said.
He fell 50 fifty feet from the top of the building, plummeting several stories to the ground.
"When the rope broke, I just thought in my head, not ‘oh darn’ or ‘oh I’m falling,’ it was ‘I better land on my feet.’ And so I did situate by body so that I could land on my feet and I did land my feet. That’s why I have two shattered heel bones. I landed on my feet and then hit my tailbone and it bounced off the concrete and I fell back. The impact basically crushed my heels, my tailbone and a burst fracture of my L-3 lumbar which in your lower back," he said.
Right away, crews brought him into Geary Community Hospital's emergency room and he was then transferred to Stormont-Vail Hospital in Topeka where the spinal surgeon was amazed that he could move his legs.
Van Bebber says multiple doctors have told him that people who have a burst fracture of the L-3 or below are paralyzed below the waist.
The pain from his injuries was unimaginable and the road to recovery has been grueling but he continues to make strides and grow stronger.
"I really want to get better and so every day, I just pray that God will help me work as hard as I can to recover as much as I possibly can. I can take steps and walk with a walker. I've been doing that for two weeks," Van Bebber told WIBW during one of his physical therapy sessions at Maximum Performance Physical Therapy and Fitness in Manhattan.
His parents have been by his side supporting him through his recovery.
He's also found strength in the support from those in his hometown of Riley, KS and members of his church in Missouri. Friends and family have been visiting him and sending him notes of encouragement.
"I think I’m going to recover to about 95% percent. Already, I’ve done more than what I should be able to do and so I’m just going to keep doing everything I can because I want to be able to run again, ride my bike, rock climbing. I love to run. I love to swim. I want to hunt again and I want to get all those things back because I love them," he said.
As he continues to heal and strives to get back to his active lifestyle and ministry, Van Bebber is teaching an online communications class (Intro to Public Speaking) for Missouri State University. He says he is grateful for every step he takes and his continued progress.
"What's great is that everyday, things get a little bit better," he told 13 News.