A dream home is more than just a physical space where you live and work and nurture your family. It’s an idea, an emotional center, a dream that’s essentially irreplaceable once you’ve realized it.
Stephanie Decker of Henryville, Indiana, understood exactly how it felt to have a dream home.
Decker and her husband Joe had made sure that their two children had left their handprints in the concrete foundation of their house because “we were never gonna leave here.”
They never left, but their house left them thanks to the destructive force of a terrifying F4 tornado that hit on March 2, 2012.
That day saw an astonishing 140 storms whip up across the area — with the Deckers stuck smack in the middle of them.
“I looked up and I saw our trampoline that was staked in the ground go flying across the yard,” she told People. “Then the entire house started to shake.”
The then-37-year-old Decker knew her family was in trouble when she heard the sound of the tornado. “I assumed I was safe and I heard the roar like a train, and I heard it behind me, and I knew it was coming,” she explained to ABC News.
“And it was so loud that I knew that I needed to do something different. I knew staying put wasn’t going to work.”
She got her children — 8-year-old Dominic and 5-year-old Reese — to the basement, but that wasn’t enough to protect them.
As the storm hit, the house disintegrated around them, and as it collapsed, a 20-foot steel eye beam fell right on Decker.
“I chose to let the beam fall instead of letting go of my kids. The feeling was, ‘I’d rather get my arms ripped off instead of letting go of my kids.’”
That giant length of metal crushed her legs instead, crushed them so badly that Decker had to use a comforter as a tourniquet. She was pinned, and her only hope lay in letting go of those children she had just saved.
Young Dominic was off like a shot, running for help to aid his mother who had just been crushed by her home. “I knew if I could get out of here I would somehow try and make an impact,” she said.
She did make it out, but at the high cost of the loss of both of her legs.
Still, the woman who went on to found the Stephanie Decker Foundation, a nonprofit that aids young amputees, says she has no regrets.
“I wouldn’t change it for a million bucks. Things happen for a reason. It was my time to step up.”
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