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Mary Free Bed graduate Bobby Decair helps patients get in Super Bowl spirit

Recreational therapist Kaitlin Salowitz and Wendy Decair at the 2017 Super Bowl party.

Bobby and Wendy Decair

Bobby Decair has constantly reminded himself to not quit since Jan. 25, 2016 – his first day at Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital.

Just days earlier, Bobby sustained a traumatic spinal cord injury when his truck slid on black ice and flipped multiple times.

“I just held on,” said Bobby, recalling the accident.

He said he remembers knowing something “wasn’t right” while undergoing various tests in the emergency room at Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital. Bobby was diagnosed with a broken neck that had caused partial paralysis.

“I felt like I had lost everything,” Bobby said.

The year before his accident, Bobby purchased an old, six-room motel in his hometown of Whitehall, Mich., and had plans to renovate the space into a new home. Although he didn’t know if he would ever be able to finish his dream home, Bobby decided he had too much to do to let the accident stop him.

Bobby said he was thrilled to transfer to Mary Free Bed for rehabilitation. He believed he was going to walk again.

“The doctors at Mary Free Bed are unbelievable,” Bobby said. “There are some very special people who work there.”

While at Mary Free Bed, Bobby tackled each day with unending motivation and the passion to succeed. He wanted to find a way to share his motivation with other patients experiencing difficult times. During his stay, Bobby and his wife, Wendy, hosted a Super Bowl lunch for employees and patients.

“Just for a minute, everyone felt good,” he said.

Inspired by seeing patients smile, laugh and enjoy one another’s company, the Decairs have kept the tradition alive, providing food from Yesterdog – among his favorites. They plan to visit again Sunday for a Super Bowl LII pre-party, both as a “thank you” to Mary Free Bed staff and as a way to brighten the day for patients.

After his accident, Bobby worked with therapists at the Mary Free Bed YMCA. Initially, he was barely able to shrug 25 pounds. His hard work has paid off, and he now is able to shrug 100 pounds during his daily gym visits. He also spends time walking the trails on the 10 acres of land behind his new home.

“Being able to walk again is unbelievable,” he said.

Bobby also resumed renovating the former motel into his family’s dream home, which will include a fully-outfitted man-cave.

“I worked hard before, but I work even harder now,” he said. “I don’t give up on anything.”

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