I had just turned 25 and was loving my job as a wildland firefighter. Life was finally coming together for me and on the upward turn. I had just recently graduated from police academy and the year before that had graduated with my bachelors degree from the University of Washington. Life was seemingly perfect until August 19, 2015 came along and it all came crashing down. My crew, myself, and several other firefighters were dispatched to a fire right outside the city of Twisp, Washington. It was a hot day and the conditions were extremely dry. After we arrived and began work on the fire, the winds shifted and the fire exploded. I ended up being the only survivor that was on our engine. I woke up what seemed like about a month later at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. I had burns on about 65% of my body. My face was disfigured, my fingertips were amputated, and everything hurt like hell. The first time I was able to see myself in the mirror I broke down in tears. My biggest fear/worry was that I would never be able to date again or get married since I was single at the time. Weeks went by and after two months of being in the burn unit I was transferred to another floor and began therapy. This is when the real misery began. Anyone that has been burned knows how painful it is to have to go through the grueling task of stretching and working out all while having to do daily wound care. I ended up staying in the hospital for a day short of three months. The best part of being released was that I started dating very quickly afterwards a girl that I had always liked. At the time, I was still wearing pressure garments, a face mask and bandages everywhere. I was always really nervous around her but she always treated me like I was never even burned. Now we have been dating for over a year and she has been one of the greatest blessings in my life.
I have spent the last year focusing on getting myself better both physically and mentally. I can finally say that I am enjoying life again in little bits at a time. I still have a ton of surgeries to go but I know they will only make me better. My goal is to begin motivational speaking this year and eventually go back to a career in law enforcement. I recently started an Instagram page dedicated to keeping people motivated and sharing my story of how burn survivors can still have a very enjoyable life. I also plan on eventually creating a lifestyle clothing brand aimed at people who are facing catastrophes in their life.