COLUMBIA – After a life-threatening accident 17 years ago, a Columbia man is proving you never have to give up what you are passionate about.
“I'm tough. You know, I was in the Army and I wasn’t afraid enough,” said motorcycle enthusiast Dennis Thompson. “The hardest thing is letting people help you out.”
Thompson was an aviation mechanic and spent much of his free time on the back of a motorcycle, riding on the open roads.
But that all changed in an instant.
“I messed up. I started drinking, trying to drink the anger away.”
Thompson crashed his motorcycle.
He spent months in a coma. In two weeks, his heart stopped six times and he was given 156 units of blood to stay alive. He lost his right arm and leg.
When he woke up, he also realized he had lost something else.
“I tried to turn on the lights,” Thompson said.
But the lights were already on.
David Thompson said his brother felt “worthless.” Along with his sight, Dennis Thompson began losing his spirit.
“I said ‘Well, you know your bike. You know all the things to do with a motorcycle, so why don’t we rebuild it?” David Thompson said.
They two brothers did just that.
After months of working, the bike was finished. Dennis Thompson decided to keep it.
Despite his difficulties, he is still riding bikes today. But now, he allows some help.
He met his now-wife Sandy Thompson during his recovery. She had never driven a motorcycle, but was willing to learn for her husband.
After making modifications to the bike, Dennis Thompson now gets around town with his wife at the wheel.
The only difference now is: “I use my imagination or my mind more when I'm riding.”
Dennis Thompson said he wants to show other people that, no matter what happens to them, they do not have to give up what they love.
“You can crash in a car, you can crash and a tractor trailer, you can crash in a bus,” he said. “Just because you crash doesn't mean that you stop doing what you need to do or what you enjoy doing.”