Live the Lion was created in an attempt to keep everyone up to date on Lance O'Cull and his road to recovery.

Lance was involved in a car accident near Morehead, Kentucky about 30 miles from where we grew up Thanksgiving weekend of 2010. He was airlifted from the scene of the accident to UK Medical Center in Lexington. The doctors told us that they could fix everything below the neck, but his brain was in God's hands. On December 22, after multiple surgeries, Lance was transferred to The Shepherd Center in Atlanta, Georgia for an intense rehabilitation program.

It was there that Lance began to gradually emerge from a coma. Lance was discharged to home, in Vanceburg on February 17th, to continue his therapy with family.

On March 10th, Lance's 25th birthday, he stood on his feet for the first time in 103 days, with lots of help. On May 11th, Lance was accepted into Cardinal Hill's brain injury unit. There he impressed and amazed our family and friends, as well as his therapists through the progress he made everyday.

Between September 2011 and April of 2012, Lance was back and forth between Cardinal Hill's inpatient program and Shepherd Center's inpatient and outpatient program. He has had a couple minor surgeries to enhance his healing and a baclofen pump inserted to help with the tone in his body.

For the past year, Lance is back in Lewis County splitting his time with both parents. He continues to travel to Ashland 3 times a week and Lexington once a week. He is learning to walk again and we couldn't be more thrilled.

It hasn't been easy, Lance has had some setbacks and tears still fall. But he is up and running this marathon. And we are all running right along beside him.

Most of the blog entries have been made by myself, Chelcee, the big sister, Brock, our baby brother, and Dr. Johnny, our dad. Our goal is for Lance to finish this blog as soon as he is able.

God has been with Lance and our entire family, giving us strength. We give Him the Glory. He is the God of Miracles.


Saturday, February 12, 2011

Friends Are Friends Forever

Leave it to Murph to talk some trash,
Oftentimes loud - sometimes brash.
The Cards played well - no reason or rhyme,
That is - 'til we got to overtime.

Next day, I, my Irish shirt wore
'though red was the choice the day before.
Showing ones colors is always fun;
But each dog'll have its day in the sun.

Memories can make a wonderful friend,
Like a fall weekend in South Bend.
For the trip, we, a seasoned host had -
Chris and Lance and Lance's dad.

Uncle Tom graciously showed us the sights
As we mixed with the masses - aged to tikes.
Viewing pictures, hearing stories - not near the same
As strolling the campus of ol' Notre Dame.

This attempt at poetry is an answer to friend Trish Murphy who has, for several weeks, written emails to Lance in rhyme.  They have been funny and educational - entertaining as we read them to Lance.  In the poem I called her Murph; the week past brought memories of another with that nickname.  My friend Mike "Murph" Murphy died unexpectedly after suffering an aneuryism.  He was a friend to many and I count myself lucky to be one of those.  He and I were competitors in high school sports days - then teammates in college intramurals.  Then we umpired baseball games as one of our part-time jobs; that gave us lots of visit time as we drove from Morehead to area high schools on those spring afternoons.  Many of us found it hard to say good-bye to Murph this week; our sympathy is extended to his family.

Many friendships from the past have been recalled and rekindled over the past 77 days since Lance was injured.  The opportunity to become better acquainted with his wonderful friends has been a blessing.  I realized that his first 24 years have been very busy but I also learned more about loyal relationships with intelligent and compassionate people.  One night back in Lexington, after watching a parade of young people visit, I said, "These 20 and 30-somethings are refreshing as they demonstrate their love so transparently; this world will be better off when they are in charge."

The friends I have enjoyed over the years all come together in a beautiful collage, at a time like this  Comrads band together to pull their sinking friend from whatever difficulty into which he/she has stumbled.  During these past 11 weeks you have reached out to me - I thank you from the bottom of my heart.  You really don't have to say anything; often I cannot get a word out through the emotion and I hope that's ok.  Words are not necessary to communicate with those you love.  You miss them and you yearn to hear them again, but there is a love language that emanates from the eyes.  As I look into Lance's eyes today it's like  looking into his soul as his mind works and his lips and tongue reposition attempting to communicate - attempting to achieve what used to be so easy - what we often take for granted.

One of Lance's friends, who has been a friend to many including Papaw John and Granny Betty, is Charlie Stapleton.  His frequent mailings are easy to distinguish, even though there is no return address, as Live the Lion is neatly scribed on each envelope.  One mailing included a picture from the Lewis County Herald of Brock and Chelcee wearing Dance for Lance medium t-shirts and extra large smiles.  Charlie expressed how he values a smile; not only is it a treasure but I thought, another quiet way of communication.

As Lance's week comes to a close and as the days count down before he returns to Kentucky, we celebrate what has happened.  He looks so strong, so healthy, as we returned on Friday.  Jill left Saturday morning after spending time with him and in training this week; there is much for all to learn.  Gena and I arrived Friday afternoon and was able to watch afternoon therapy sessions.  One noteworthy event of Friday was Lance's third bicycle ride of the week.  Even the therapists were excited that he rode 7 miles in 35 minutes on this ride.  We are excited and hopeful that exercise bicycling will continue after he gets home; it sounds like that opportunity will happen thanks to the kindness of a friend.  Today he had a physical and speech therapy session - more than usual for Saturday.  We are so grateful for the wonderful care and friendliness of the folks here at the Sheherd Center.  It sure has made being away from home - feel like home.  We had hoped Lance could go outside today but the wind with temps in the 40's changed our minds.  We watched Uof L beat the Orangemen and that was good medicine; then we watched the second half of UK/Vandy and that was a bitter pill to swallow. 

Winning or losing, friends are we.  And precious are each one.



  1. Right you are each friend is so precious. It is so uplifting and does ones soul good to see and feel the coming together, the caring and willingness to help one another. Watching the UofL game was good medicine but coming home again will be Great medicine for Lance! No matter where our life's journeys take us there is never any place like home nor a feeling so good as returning there. As always you all are in our thoughts and prayers! Tell Lance to keep up the good work! 7 miles is a long way to ride for a fellow who has been through what he has!
    Karen Killen

  2. Lance's recovery is a daily reminder to me of God's presence. I am so thankful for everyone who has made the journey to see Lance and I know that it has made a difference to your family in a lot of ways. Your statement about his generation rings true. We tend to forget that there are young people who are truly good and kind and loving. Reading that so many of them are Lance's friends, just confirms the type of friend and person he is himself.
    I got to see Chelcee at the play last night and it was so good to be able to hug her. I feel like I am hugging you all that way. I can't say how many times a day you are all on my mind.
    I am sorry to read about your friend who passed away. My sincere condolences to you and his family.
    Much love and continued prayers,

  3. Love reading the updates on Lance and how much progress he is making. Although he has a rough road ahead of him, I know with all the love, support, and encouragement from his family and friends PLUS all the prayers, he's got this aced. Got my bracelet tonight and I will wear it proudly until Lance is back to being Lance all the time. Thoughts and prayers continue daily for Lance and Shannon and the families.