Terry McCarty was in an accident as a six-year-old child that left him with more than 70 percent of his body severely burned.
Many didn’t expect him to live, and when it became apparent he would pull through, they didn’t expect him to have much of a life or to choose the profession that he did.
McCarty wasn’t always so sure of it himself. After the accident, he had to endure the ridicule of classmates, who referred to him as “Freddy Krueger,” along with other vile putdowns.
Still, something kept the young man going as he endured 58 operations to make repairs to his damaged skin. Then, at the age of 25, following years of low self-confidence, he decided that fear should no longer have a place in his life.
In October, 2011, the Daily Mail reports, he applied to a Washington fire service. His application was accepted the following April and during the 12 weeks of physical training, he faced fire again for the first time since that day in 1992 when his life changed forever.
“As part of my training, I had to complete a live fire exercise,” he explained in comments to the news site. “Fear washed right over me just as the fire had all those years ago. I couldn’t move. I felt like I was six years old again when I saw those flames shoot out of the ceiling.”
But as he faced his old enemy for the first time in two decades, “I started to realize the fire didn’t control me. Why should I let fear take over my life?”
By July, 2012, Terry McCarty was a firefighter, and that was in spite of the fact that the accident had taken parts of his fingers and thumbs as you can see in the image, above-left.
McCarty was able to face down the demon that stole his childhood and serve as a firefighter for two years before moving on to the Burned Children Recovery Foundation in Bellingham, Washington, where he is able to give back to young people who are faced with situations similar to his own.
“I wanted to give these children a chance to experience being a kid, even for a short time,” he said.
Stories like those of Terry McCarty are not only inspirational to burn victims. They are reminders to everyone that the human will is a difficult thing to break, no matter how much the odds are stacked against them.
What do you think of Terry McCarty’s accomplishments? Is there someone that you know who has overcome insurmountable odds? If so, we’d love to hear about them. Share your thoughts in the comments section.