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Ironman hit by car leaves wheelchair behind for 5K | Community Spirit

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Ironman hit by car leaves wheelchair behind for 5K
Ironman hit by car leaves wheelchair behind for 5K

KENNESAW, Ga. -- "Thank you for everything you've done for us," Andrew Powell says.

He barely has room to move. Never has The Big Peach Running Company store in Kennesaw been so packed. People wait their turn to hug him, to tell him "you're an inspiration," to tell him "I can't believe it, either."

The word comeback hangs in the air, unspoken. It is a word that carries a lot of weight. It means succeeding after being close to failure. And on this night, comeback fits Powell perfectly.

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Powell says, "I'm pretty much in shock."

Two and a half months ago, Powell was wheelchair bound, re-learning how to navigate life at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta.

"We were doing a little ten mile ride nice and easy. I don't remember much of it but we were rear ended by a car," he says.

Out for a ride six months ago, the day before a half-Ironman in New Orleans, Powell and his brother-in-law were hit by a car. The brother-in-law, Frank Guinn, was killed. Powell broke his tailbone, pelvis, ankle and injured his spine.

"I ended up with a T12 incomplete spinal injury," he said.

On July 4th, during The Peachtree Road Race, this avid athlete sat in front of Shepherd receiving hugs from his runner friends, never knowing if he would be with them again. This is what he told us then: "I'll run this or I'll be in a wheelchair rolling it."

WATCH | Powell at the Peachtree

But today, there is no need for that chair.

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Flanked by friends, family and his Shepherd therapists, Powell walks out of The Big Peach and runs three miles. His therapist encourages him: "Remember when you couldn't even stand, you were in so much pain and you had to lie on the mat and crawl?"

"I know," he says.

He's not as fast.

"This used to feel so much easier," he says.

It hurts. And he wouldn't have it any other way.

"If I had my choice between the worst run ever and no run at all, I'd take the worst run ever," he says.

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It's been a grief-filled journey, from losing his best friend, to thinking he'd lost his ability to walk. But Andrew persevered, and the pieces are being put back together.

The crowd inside the store chants his nickname, "AP! AP! AP!"

Powell thanks all of his supporters and when it comes time to thank his wife Sandra, you can hear in his voice how far they've come.

"I owe her everything. I love you and thank you so much," he says, his voice catching.

Andrew Powell, making a comeback, step by miraculous step.


Watch more moving Atlanta Alive moments.

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