He walks to the Morrison Y.
He walks to church. He walks to StoneCrest shopping center from his home in Elizabeth Townes.
Paul Archer walks more than 6 miles a day, an amazing feat for a man told he may never walk again.
Archer was excited when he bought a new motorcycle – just hours before an accident that changed his life. He was 29 and a manager at NAPA Auto Parts in Matthews.
Fourteen years ago this month, Archer was on his way home from a short trip to the store, hours after buying the motorcycle.
“I hit a speed bump and lost control,” said Archer. He then hit another bump and was thrown under a parked car.
“I had just gone out to get a paper. I was 1,500 feet from my apartment door,” he said.
Two weeks later, when Archer woke from a coma, he faced many challenges. The left side of his body was damaged. Archer was left-handed, and the promise of regaining use of his left arm was doubtful.
Would he ever walk again?
After a month at Carolinas Medical Center, Archer’s mother had him transferred to a hospital in New York, close to where she lived, so she could look after him.
Archer left that hospital in New York in a wheelchair wearing leg braces.
He has rods and pins in his left arm and leg but no longer uses the wheelchair. Doctors thought he could not make it on his own, and for two years he lived with his mother.
“I did everything I could to regain my strength,” said Archer. “I prepared meals, washed and dried dishes, walked my mom’s St. Bernard, who was bigger than me.”
His goal was to be on his own.
In 2003, he moved back to Charlotte to start life anew, a different life for a former runner. He wanted to defy the doctors’ predictions: He knew he could make it on his own.
“It’s easy to sit on the couch and watch TV and not do anything,” Archer said. “But someday I want to run again.”
Archer works out at least four hours a day, five days a week, at the Morrison Y.
“He’s such an inspiration,” said Mim Timmons, who often sees Archer at the Y. “I can see that regular exercise has helped him. His gait is so much better.”
Archer is unable to work; the accident affected his vision and he cannot drive. But he is sure of one thing: He wants to run again.
“When told I can’t do something, it’s more drive to prove them wrong,” he said.
June Noe is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for June? Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.