It’s no small miracle Brady Winans is standing, and not confined to a wheelchair, as seen in the photo with members of his Hunt Regional Medical Center physical therapy support team, in his hometown of Greenville, Texas.
Winans, a long time fishing industry sales rep for brands like Huk, Costa, 6th Sense and Falcon Rods broke more bones than Humpty Dumpty following a horrific fog-related crash, when his longtime fishing partner’s bass boat hit the riprap dam on Cedar Creek reservoir two weeks before Christmas in a winter fishing trip 19 months ago.
Ejected from the boat at 40 mph, Winans body was tossed on to the jagged rocks, fracturing several portions of his body, including his back. He was then transported by helicopter from the top of the dam they’d planned to throw an Alabama Rig on just a few minutes earlier.
“I broke a lot of big stuff. Including my back, collar bone, ribs, femur, and my ankle was basically a bag of broken pieces,” says the 48-year-old father of two young boys.
“So, yea, the people you see in the photo with me, along with the incredible staff at UT Tyler, where I was hospitalized for three months, are like family. They’re the crew that had to put Humpty Dumpty back together again,” grins the always comical Winans.
Word of his accident spread quickly to fellow anglers as well as his fishing industry family, and the display of generosity that precipitated still brings him to tears.
“For starters, my long time boss Russell Cecil, who is a great salesman, but an even better person, assured me that no matter how long it took me to recover, I’d always have a job with Sunbelt Sales, and that if I needed to work from home, instead of visiting our dealers for a while, that was fine too,” says Winans.
To further assure financial support, anglers and the fishing industry rallied big time. A GoFundMe account raised $45,000, top pros raffled off fishing trips in his honor and fishing companies donated thousands of dollars in merchandise to a silent auction. Plus, 6th Sense lure company sold special edition “Build Back Brady” t-shirts that raised another $9,000, and 85 teams showed-up to raise even more money at a benefit tournament on Lake Tawakoni.
“When you see all that. When people ranging from Bassmaster Classic Champions to people you’ve never met are contributing their time and money to help heal you, there’s just no way I could give up physically or mentally,” he says.
But for more than himself or anybody else, Brady Winans has battled for his wife, Val and their two boys. “I’m so blessed to have a sweet wife who’s a nurse, and I’ll tell you, a huge percentage of my will and motivation comes from her, because I don’t want to let her down.”
Winans hasn’t let anybody down. In fact, he’s inspired thousands, largely by frequently posting his challenges and progress on social media.
And yes, he’s back in a bass boat. Fishing from the back deck with Stan Lawing, where he threw a 6th Sense Vega frog and a 6th Sense braid swim jig in a highly competitive Bass Champs team trail event recently to finish in 37th place, good enough for his first Toyota Bonus Bucks check since the accident.
The new Tundra CrewMax Limited he purchased is equipped with hand control brake and accelerator devices, because he’s still working hard to regain full use of his legs, ankles and feet. And while he does in fact utilize a wheelchair frequently, he’s extremely self-motivated to use his Loftstrand crutches as much as possible, with the ultimate goal of someday needing neither.
Nobody’s betting against him. Not his physical therapy team. Not his friends nor fellow anglers. And certainly not the head coach and quarterback of his support team, Val, the one he fights hardest for, along with their two young sons, in the on-going effort to Build Back Brady.
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