The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

November 17, 2013

Walking with faith: Zander recovering from injury

By Dale Denwalt, Staff Writer
Enid News & Eagle

ENID, Okla. — More than two years since the horrific grain auger accident in Kremlin that stole his leg, Tyler Zander has bounded back through hospitalization and recovery.

Now, the sophomore at Oklahoma State University walks, in spite of a prognosis his mother said the doctors gave him.

Rhonda Zander said that her son was once told he may never walk without crutches. Tyler immediately set his crutches aside and began walking, although struggling, down the hospital corridor.

The young man attributes his success and how he’s overcome everything in his path to faith.

“It’s definitely been a struggle, for sure. But my faith allowed me to always keep pushing, to better myself,” Zander said before speaking to a group of fathers and sons at the Denny Price YMCA Father-Son Bedlam Bash dodgeball game Saturday.

He now walks, unaided, on a prosthetic leg. Zander can do a lot more, too.

“I went from not even being able to stand to being able to jump up on 3-foot blocks,” he said. “It definitely took a lot of time between there working out.”

After physical therapy, he began regularly attending a local gym, where he fell in love with working out.

“I’ve been amazed at how blessed I’ve been at the results from all that,” he said.

Zander and fellow teen Bryce Gannon were pulled into an auger while working at a grain elevator in 2011.

Zander currently is studying entrepreneurship at OSU and plans on a career in medicine. He’s leaning toward cardiovascular surgery. Due to his remarkable recovery, he’s asked to speak about his experiences.

“It kind of makes all the effort that I’ve put in over the past two years worthwhile. If I can help others or glorify God through this, that’s my real purpose,” he said.

He professes his faith, and he wears it like a badge. On the prosthesis, where his shin would be, is the image of a cross. The vertical post is designed as a grain auger.

“That sums up things pretty perfectly,” he said. “It just kind of told the story that God has brought me through all of this, and that when it came down to it, knowing where I was going to go if I would die, that was huge.”

On the top part of his prosthesis is a Bible verse, Joshua 1:9, reminding him to be strong and brave. It’s the same Bible verse he saw on the wall of his hospital room every day.

“It means that no matter where I’m at or what the circumstances are — not only for me, but anyone else, whether I’m laying in a hospital bed for 72 days or stuck in a grain auger thinking I’ve already lived the best days of my life — in all those times, God was with me. He still had a plan,” Zander said.

And even though his life was changed forever, he added, there’s no need to worry.

“Throughout this whole ordeal, I’ve never really tried to worry, because I believe worrying only hurts us. It wouldn’t have helped me at all,” he said. “If I always stayed strong in my faith, then God provides everything else. He’s given me so much with the circumstances, and I really don’t see any other way that he wouldn’t provide for me later on. Why would he stop now?”