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Faulty Test Jump Leaves Stuntman in Need of a Miracle

“My job description, if you go to my office up at Arrowhead Stadium it says, ‘K.C.Wolf, Director of Shenanigans.’  That's what my that's what is on my nameplate at my office.”

Dan Meers has been entertaining Kansas City Chiefs’ fans for almost 30 years as the team mascot - the KC Wolf. He first donned a mascot outfit while in college at the University of Missouri, as their mascot Truman the Tiger. He says, “For four years I got to do college football and basketball and other sporting events and community events, and I just had a lot of fun doing it, never dreaming that it was going to eventually turn into my career.”

Dan is longest performing mascot in professional sports and the first inducted into the mascot hall of fame. With every Chiefs home game, he has opportunities to try new skits and stunts. “We’re always looking for ways to take it to the next level and we're always trying to think of what – what will the fans enjoy? And I had seen another mascot who had zip lined into his stadium and I thought, ‘You know, that's a – that'd be awesome.’, I thought ‘We’ll try that out, and so I jumped out, and basically zipped across the stadium and then they lowered me to the field and the crowd just loved it.  And so later that season we thought, ‘You know what?  We'll do it again, but we don't want to do the exact same thing.  We want to kinda mix it up so it's, you know, new and fresh.’ And so they were like well we can do a bungee jump with it.”

The day before debuting the stunt, he did a test jump without the costume that went horribly wrong. Dan says, “When I jumped out of the lights, because of the slack that was still in the zip line that day, instead of falling 20 feet, I fell approximately 70 to 75 feet and I hit the seats in the upper level at Arrowhead Stadium.”

His fall broke two seats out of the stadium’s concrete. But it was Dan’s body that took most of the impact. “I wasn't sure what all had happened and – I knew I never felt pain like that before in my life.”  

Dan broke his back, and seven ribs along with his tailbone and sacrum. He also had a collapsed lung and struggled to breathe. As he was lowered to the field a friend rushed to his side and prayed for him. Dan says, “It was good reminder that God’s in control. He had someone there in place to come pray for me. And just kind of my reminder that hey, I’m here It’s going to be okay.”

The following day Dan had two titanium rods surgically implanted in his back to secure his spine. He awoke from surgery thankful to be alive but wondering why God allowed the accident to happen. “There were times where I would just be sitting there in so much pain I'd be like, ‘God, I really don’t like this plan.’ And I told him that.  And but he reminded me, ‘Yeah, trust me.  I'll get you through this.’”  

After nine days in the hospital Dan went home. For the next six months he endured grueling rehab and physical therapy. For a time, Dan struggled emotionally until he heard a message on Christian radio about thankfulness. Dan remembers, “He said, ‘Every morning you wake up, everybody's got something to complain about and everybody's got something to be thankful for’.  He said, ‘Whichever one you choose to focus on is going to determine your attitude for the day.’  And I still remember sitting in my car, tears running down my face – that's shocking, I know – but I realized that God just taught me a valuable lesson. I learned that yeah, I could complain about my seven broken ribs or I could choose to be thankful I had 17 good ones that weren't broken, you know?  I realized I could complain about my collapsed left lung that still wasn't completely healed, or I could be thankful I had two lungs and the other one was working just fine, you know. There's all kinds of things I could complain about, but that day I stopped and I remember I told God, ‘Thank you for my pain.’  And that's really hard to do. I think I'm pretty good about thanking him for my blessings, but saying "thank you" for pain is hard.  But I did, I thanked him cause I realized if I couldn't feel pain, I'd be dead or I'd be paralyzed.  And then I thought about that.  Death, paralysis, or pain. I got the best one out of the three.

"I tell people, I still wake up with pain every morning, you know?  And every morning before I get out of bed God reminds I get to make a choice. When I get out of bed I can choose to rise and shine, or I can choose to rise and whine.  And I don't want to be a whiner.  You see, whiners do not make a positive impact for Jesus Christ in this world and as believers we're called to get out and make a difference in our world and to shine the love of Christ everywhere we go.”

Amazingly, by the start of the next football season Dan was healthy enough to be back in the wolf suite once again. He says, “I knew I was back to doing what I loved doing and that's putting on a costume and entertaining fans at Arrowhead Stadium. I was just so excited to be back and I came home that night just on Cloud 9.  I was worn out but I was excited knowing that, yeah, my body was strong enough to continue to do what I loved doing.”

Dan wrote a book about his career, recovery and God’s faithfulness through it all entitled ‘Wolves Can’t Fly’. He continues to inspire people as the KC Wolf and also with his testimony of thankfulness in the midst of pain. “And I've had people say, ‘You're lucky to be alive.’  I don't believe I'm lucky to be alive.  I do believe I’m blessed.  One thing he-he has shown me is just how incredibly good He is, how incredibly faithful He is, and on the good days and even on the rough days that he's still on the throne and God's principles and God's promises never change, they're always reliable no matter how severe or how painful the situation is. I know God loves me, I read that every morning in His word. He loves me.  I also know that he's got a good plan for my life and I'm just grateful that I get to walk with Him each and every step of this journey.”

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