Six months after a car accident left him paralyzed, then 18-year old Christopher Bodenheimer was pushing himself to move forward - and sharing his comeback story with 13 News.
"He's stubborn," recalls his sister-in-law, April Bodenheimer. "His nickname was "Bear" for a reason."
Christopher would share his story many times over the years, telling of how life had changes since he crashed his car his way to work July 27, 1995. Sunday, at age 31, the injuries finally claimed his life.
"He handled it better than I could have," his younger brother, Mark Bodenheimer, said. "If I was in his situation, I couldn't have done half the stuff he did."
Christopher came back to finish high school and even took classes at Washburn University, his father, Gary at his side. His family says Christopher loved to tease people, watch the Denver Broncos and hang out at Topeka Civic Theatre.
"Everything was so big, so amazing," his sister, Ieshia Goodell says. "He wanted to be that - he wanted to be amazing."
Ieshia, Mark and April agree Christopher was amazing.
"He loved life. He loved everything about it," Ieshia says. "No matter how hard it seemed to us, he just went right through it. He made it seem easy."
"I learned from Chris to take one day at a time; leave no regrets because you never know what tomorrow will bring," April says. "He always said he wouldn't be around forever, so to live, you had to get out and do, not sit around and talk about it."
"He was an amazing guy," Mark says.
As for why Christopher continued to share his story, Mark says it was so other people in his situation could see that if you are in a car accident and are paralyzed, "there is life and you can move on."
Christopher's family says they tried to get him life insurance, but were always turned down. They were also told social security will only pay a benefit to a surviving spouse or child, which Christopher has neither. To help the family pay for funeral expenses, a fund is set up. Send donations to the Christopher Bodenheimer Funeral Fund, c/o Capital City Bank, 3710 S. Topeka Blvd., Topeka, KS 66609. They can also be brought to any Capital City Bank branch.