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Sustained by his faith, avid hunter recovers from tree stand fall

by Chris Lewis

As a Michigan native, Geoff Newmyer, along with a majority of his friends and family members, has been actively hunting since he was a child.

“My dad and uncles were avid hunters,” Geoff said. “As I grew up, I always looked forward to hunting with my dad.”

Geoff has been hunting on his own since he was 12-years-old. To this day, he vividly remembers some of the most significant hunting milestones of his life, including the first deer he shot with his bow and the first turkey he killed. He also recalls childhood trips with his family and friends to Nebraska and to a northern Michigan deer camp.

These memories – of hunting, wildlife and companionship – led Geoff to become a passionate bow hunter. Throughout the past few years, Geoff frequently hunted from tree stands and generally did so safely and successfully, as he had seen and shot numerous deer from his stands.

Unfortunately, on October 7, 2007, Geoff’s hunt did not quite end the way in which he had envisioned it would.

As he prepared to leave his stand, much like he had done dozens of times in the past, a tree branch, on which he had been standing, completely snapped.

Before he knew it, Geoff lost his balance and tumbled more than 15 feet towards the ground.

The impact of the fall crushed two vertebrae – T9 and T10 – in his spine, leading him to become paralyzed from his lower back down.

Geoff was soon transported to Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital, where he spent the next 5 days recovering in the intensive care unit. Immediately after, he was transferred to Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital for a five-and-a-half-week-long recovery process.

“At the time, Mary Free Bed’s staff members worked with me and helped me become self-sufficient once again,” Geoff said. “I learned how to use a wheelchair, how to get dressed, and, most importantly, how to begin to live like I had before.”

Overall, Geoff’s rehabilitation experiences were positive.

“The nurses and therapists were amazing. They taught me how to continue to live my life, even in a wheelchair with a spinal cord injury,” Geoff said. “After all the changes that my body went through, I had to learn how my body was going to react – and I did, with their help.”

But, more than anything else, Geoff’s faith sustained him and led him to become the person he is today.

“I have never been one to give up,” Geoff said. “My faith in God has helped me to press on. I know that someday I will walk again with that faith.”

With this faith, Geoff has continued to operate his own plumbing company, raise his daughter and enjoy his favorite pastime – hunting.

As Geoff reflects on the past and focuses on the future, he has some words of advice for hunters.

“If you use a tree stand, always wear a safety harness and remain connected to a safety line at all times while climbing a tree,” Geoff said.

Additionally, he hopes that other people will continue to pursue their goals – and relish their passions – just like he has in recent years.

“Never, ever give up on your dreams – no matter what happens.”

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