HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - It's said, that to understand a man you've got to walk a mile in his shoes. Shawn McKearin's story is one that can't be judged by simply looking at the smile that's usually on his face. In fact when you hear it, you learn his journey has not been easy.
"It's pretty devastating. I was 34 at the time, and life was good the day before," he said.
"I went to work one morning and by the end of the day, around dusk, we had an accident. Hit an 18-wheeler. And the van I was in pushed the engine in on me and crushed both my legs."
Doctors were able to save one leg, but had to amputate the other above the knee. At the time, he and his wife were left to deal with the loss alone.
"You can have a lot of people, your loved ones, your friends, your pastors at church, everybody can console you, but until somebody's actually been through something like that, my first thought is, 'yeah but you're not laying here with your leg amputated or your arm amputated how can you tell me it's going to be okay.' So to have somebody that's gone through that and to be able to see that it's going to be okay and that life does go on and even as an amputee you can still persevere through life," said McKearin.
While he didn't have that support, it equipped him to be that support for other amputees. He founded The Tennessee Valley Amputee Support Group (TVASG). But years before getting that going, doctors called on him for hospital visits after they had to amputate a person's limb. They knew McKearin could not only be a counselor but a guide through an emotional process.
"When I had my accident and was going through everything, I didn't know a lot, and there was not anybody that taught you any of that stuff or explained how things should be," he says.
Mckearin's son was a little boy when the accident happened and today he's in school studying in the prosthetics field. As for the TVASG they're looking to grow and have already gained the sponsorship of the Rocket City Dance Club to help raise money. They're hoping to attract other sponsors.