In 2012, Stephanie Decker was a happy mom of two boys and an accomplished runner and triathlete. Little did she know that her whole life was about to change, but not without a huge sacrifice from her. Stephanie lived with her husband, Joe, and their two children in Henryville, Indiana. It was mid-March when the life-altering event occurred, affecting her families’ lives in an unimaginable way.
Stephanie and her children had just arrived home and headed to the basement because a tornado was heading their way. “I don’t even think twice about it,” she said. “I wouldn’t change it for a million bucks. Things happen for a reason. It was my time to step up.”
As the tornado hit, their home began to fall apart around them. “I looked up and I saw our trampoline that was staked in the ground go flying across the yard,” she said. “Then the entire house started to shake. I became petrified at that point, and one of the windows busted in.”
Stephanie grabbed a blanket and covered Dominic and Reese with it. She then lay on top to protect her children. “I watched the foundation separate from the house and lift up,” she said.
An F4 tornado, with wind gusts of 175 miles per hour, destroyed her home. Stephanie looked up to see a 20-foot steel beam falling directly toward where she and her kids lay. “I could see it in slow motion,” she said. “I was covered in bricks and stones.”
“I could let go of them, move the stuff off me, and get away from that beam. 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." Stephanie's legs were crushed under the weight of the 20-foot steel beam.
“The pillar was coming straight for my daughter’s head,” Stephanie recalled. “Now that I only have upper-body movement I can’t cover them, so I’m twisting back and forth taking the brunt of the flying debris. I twisted my body, and it broke eight ribs and punctured my lung.” This heroic mom did something extraordinary and saved the lives of her two sweet kids. She most definitely deserves the Mom-of-the-Year award.
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