His battle back: no limits
By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on February 17, 2012 1:46 PM
Dave Galloway shows a look of determination while talking about his recovery after nearly being killed by a car that crashed into him while he was riding his bicycle on Dec. 14, 2006. Galloway's doctors told him he would be lucky to walk again and definitely would never be able to ride his bike again. This year, Galloway plans to bike 4,000 miles.
Dave Galloway is seen preparing to ride his bicycle. Almost killed when he was struck by a car several years ago, Galloway is back in the saddle, enjoying his favorite sport again.
They smiled for the first few moments -- the dozens who showed up at St. Paul United Methodist Church Thursday evening, in part, to hear Dave Galloway speak.
Some even laughed when light-hearted photographs scrolled across the screen.
But Galloway knew what images were coming -- that the story he was about to share began long after those memories were made.
"These were my days before the accident," he said. "From then until now, I have gone from being totally physically disabled to ... mildly physically disabled. I come from a perfectly healthy background that was interrupted five years ago."
As he unwrapped his affliction -- and photographs from the day that changed his life flashed on and off the screen behind him -- many of the smiles turned to blank stares.
They had come to hear a story about adversity overcome -- to celebrate another year of an organization that does so much for local residents with special needs.
But those who converged on a downtown church to celebrate the Wayne Opportunity Center had no idea that the fact that the man addressing them had walked across the stage to take his place behind a lectern -- that he was even standing -- was more than doctors ever imagined he would be able to do.
It was Dec. 14, 2006, and Galloway followed his "normal routine," spending his lunch hour riding his bicycle in Snow Hill.
But tragedy struck as he neared the end of his route.
"A car crossed the center line, came over into my lane and hit me head on," Galloway said.
The 55-year-old's body was broken.
He was bleeding internally.
And by the time emergency responders arrived at the scene, he was fading.
Galloway was air-lifted to Pitt Memorial Hospital -- a ride he, to this day, has no recollection of.
His pelvis and right knee had shattered.
Both of his legs, all the bones in his right arm, five ribs and one of his vertebra were broken.
"The doctors told my family they would go from minute to minute as they considered my chances of survival," he said.
And he would spend the next month in an intensive care unit -- in a "drug-induced coma."
But his battle was only beginning.
He would be forced to endure rehabilitation for the next six months.
"They were basically teaching me how to live with one functioning arm and one functioning leg," Galloway said. "I was in a wheelchair not knowing what my future would hold."
And when, in March 2007, he spoke with a doctor about what it might look like, he broke down.
"As I laid there, I asked (him) if I would ever be able to ride a bike again," Galloway said. "His response was that I would be lucky if I ever walked again -- that riding a bike was definitely out of the question.
"I cried like a baby for a long time. Something that had been such a big part of my life had been taken away from me. I was heartbroken at first, but then my sadness turned to anger and the anger turned to determination."
He was going to fight.
Within a few months -- with the help of crutches and a walker -- he was on his feet again.
And by June, he had purchased a three-wheel bicycle.
"I would wheel myself to the carport and just look at it -- just dreaming of the day I would be able to ride it," Galloway said.
And when, that October, he rode 100 feet down his driveway, something inside him said he was going to make a comeback.
"That was the start," he said.
In the five years since his accident, Galloway has been back to the hospital 15 times.
His hip and elbow have been replaced.
He has fought off infection.
His abdomen has been surgically repaired.
But he never stopped fighting.
Galloway put 3,900 miles on his bicycle last year.
"And my goal for this year is 4,000 miles," he said, as the crowd cheered. "But none of this would have been possible without the prayers, care and encouragement of my family, friends and doctors."
Like his grandsons, Gabe and Caleb, a pair of young boys who nearly evoked tears from the man when he told a story about them.
It was the day before the accident and Galloway had just carried them to the car.
"Gabe and Caleb were both giggling and I said, 'You guys are getting so big. What in the world will (I) do when you get so big I can't carry you anymore?'" he said. "Gabe responded to me. He said, 'When that happens, we'll just have to carry you.'"
And just months after the accident, during a visit to the hospital, they stood behind his wheelchair and did just that.
"They pushed me out into the hallway and the next thing I know ... (the boys) were in one heck of ... a fight, right there in the hospital," Galloway said. "Guess what they were fighting over? Which one of them was going to get to push (me). The time had come for them to carry me."