Henryville mom speaks of challenges, recovery after tornadoes

Stephanie Decker lost both legs in the March 2012 tornadoes in Henryville.

Stephanie Decker, who lost her legs shielding her children during the tornadoes in southern Indiana two years ago, spoke Thursday about her biggest challenges and what she's learned.

Decker spoke at the Easter Seals Crossroads annual luncheon in Indianapolis, wearing her prosthetic legs and ensuring everyone she's okay.

"My day is really no different from any other day, I just put my legs on first," Decker said.

Her house was leveled by two tornadoes March 2, 2012, an EF-2 and an EF-4, her legs were severed as she covered her young son and daughter, who came away without a scratch. Amazingly, the beam which injured her legs also worked as a tourniquet and saved her life.

"There was a reason, there was a purpose that I was supposed to be in that situation that day and so many things went right, that if one of those had gone wrong, I wouldn't be here, so there has got to be a purpose," Decker said.

She decided to be positive. After a lengthy rehab, Decker took her first steps.

"I'm nobody special. It is what it is, I'm not...it's just how I chose my path after it happened," she said.

She started traveling the country, so far speaking at nearly two dozen events like Thursday's luncheon.

"The biggest lesson I learned from this accident, from this story is, it's not all about me. I've lived in a pretty selfish world, in my own little bubble of running my kids to school, ball practices, you know, living my life with my family, not really seeing much outside of our bubble, our town and our community and wow, what an eye opener," Decker said.

She says Henryville is unified and rebuilding, two years after the storms.

"We have, in our new home, a bunker. It is an underground safe room, concreted on top, sides, back, I mean, you can't even hear the thunder outside. This thing is built. We did that for peace of mind for them. What are the odds it happens again, you know, very slim, but we're also obviously going to make sure we are a little more prepared than we were last time," she said.

Decker works out nearly two hours a day and has the goal of running.

"I look it as, 'I am pretty stinkin' lucky.' I have a lot to live for, I have a wonderful husband, we have beautiful children, we have a new home. I have life and, to me, that is the gift I was given and it's now up to me to know to do something with that," she said.

"One point, I felt so guilty for a lot of the attention that this brought on for just me and then I thought, 'It's time to get over feeling guilty about it and it's time to do something else about it,' and that is what I've really tried to do."

Decker has raised nearly $45,000 for her foundation to send children to camp where they can play able-bodied sports and change Kentucky law to provide high-quality prosthetics for patients.