SMITH: An inspirational story of faith and survival

The word “miracle” is casually thrown around, especially in this festive yet sacred season. But in 2018, a true miracle will become obvious for Hoosiers with the publication of a book detailing an amazing survival story of a southern Indiana youth pastor.

In May 2013, Cody Byrns was driving on U.S. 41 when he stopped for a light in Princeton. Seconds later, a distracted driver plowed his large delivery truck into Byrns’ car, both crushing and enflaming it at once.

First responders fiercely fought the flames, but alas, it was too hot too fast. So they called the Gibson County coroner to assist with the aftermath of the horrific accident that engulfed Byrns’ car.

While sheriff’s deputies directed traffic and tried a modest cleanup, a firefighter caught an indistinct movement—barely a twitch from one finger on Byrns’ left hand.

He was alive!

Now the flames were fully doused. A helicopter rushed the comatose Byrns to the hospital where he began a long, arduous journey of three years to regain the use of his limbs after suffering second-, third- and fourth-degree burns over 40 percent of his body. Today, at age 27, after scores of surgeries and procedures, he appears perfectly normal, although he might skip a single flight of stairs in favor of an elevator when possible.

With his physical recovery well in hand, and his psychological recovery nurtured by his deep and abiding faith, Byrns is ready to share with others the lessons mastered. The core message will be in a forthcoming book, “Scar Release,” which is the name of the medical procedure a prominent Indianapolis doctor employed dozens of times to help Byrns. The phrase is also an apt description of Byrns’ new life philosophy.

“We shouldn’t allow the troubles of this life to bound us in defeat and bitterness, but rise above tragedies, not only as a survivor but as someone who thrives,” Byrns said in summarizing the experience.

The book will be published in February and then Byrns will begin a nationwide promotional campaign to help introduce his aptly named Cody Byrns Foundation and its mission of helping burn victims. He plans to raise money and awareness as a motivational and inspirational speaker in collaboration with the Richard M. Fairbanks Burn Center at Eskenazi Hospital and its internationally acclaimed burn doctor, Raj Sood.

Byrns credits Sood with saving his life, and he plans to dedicate the years he has been gifted to helping others overcome burns and other debilitating injuries, both physical and emotional, by “releasing the scars that hold us back.”

His message will resonate especially loudly with at least three key groups.

First are first responders. They not only need encouragement and support from all of us, but they also need examples of life pulled, literally, from the ashes to bolster them when the rescue doesn’t work, the life isn’t saved, the finger does not twitch.

Next are families, especially mothers, facing adversity who simply don’t give up. Byrns is quick to credit his family’s love and his mother’s unceasing prayers with powering his recovery and showing him the larger purpose in the accident.

Finally, burn victims, per se, many of whom will be served by the new foundation. The struggles are excruciating, and Byrns will become a champion for this underserved group.

As the fifth anniversary of the accident approaches this May and Cody emerges from the long road of recovery, Hoosiers will learn his amazing story. We will see what a miracle it was that he survived—and now thrives—and be stronger for it.

Learn more at Better yet, book him now for your annual gatherings.•

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Smith is president of the Indiana Family Institute and author of “Deicide: Why Eliminating The Deity is Destroying America.” Send comments

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