"Things happen for a reason. It was my time to step up," said Decker.
It's only when you become a parent that you realize what it means to put someone else's life before yours. Mothers, especially, sacrifice a lot for the sake of their kids, and Stephanie Decker is no exception. In fact, she's nothing less than a hero, because she saved her children from a horrific tornado though she lost her own legs in the attempt.
On March 2, 2012, Decker, now 47, had just come home with her little kids, eight-year-old Dominic and five-year-old Reese, when the winds began blowing strongly. "I looked up and I saw our trampoline that was staked in the ground go flying across the yard. Then the entire house started to shake. I became petrified at that point and one of the windows busted in," said the mother, according to PEOPLE.
Because of how drastically the weather had changed, Decker knew she had to get to safety before things got out of control. She headed down to the basement with her little children, covered them with a blanket, and laid on top of them, acting as their shield.
Even when things got bad, she did not budge. She watched her house being torn apart by the F4 tornado but continued to protect her children. "I watched the foundation separate from the house and lift up," said the mother. Within moments, she saw a 20-foot steel I-beam on the verge of falling in her direction.
She could have escaped if she'd moved, but she didn't want to risk putting her kids in danger, so she stayed put. "I could see it in slow motion. 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,'" recalled the mother.
The beam ended up crushing her legs and she was trapped when another F2 tornado hit their home. It ripped off a pillar and the mother saw that it was going to fall on her daughter. She immediately intervened to save her life.
"The pillar was coming straight for my daughter’s head. 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," said Decker.
Narrating the events to Daily Mail, she said, "Everything started hitting my back, beams, pillars, furniture - everything was slamming into my back. They were screaming, 'Mommy, I can’t live without you! I don’t wanna die, please don’t let me die!' and I said, 'you’re not going to die, we’re going to make it.'"
The mother did not think she would survive the traumatic ordeal, given her injuries. "It was cut off or it was barely attached. I took my phone and I made a video to my husband to tell him I love him. I knew it was bad. If I didn't get help soon, I was going to bleed out," said Decker. However, she overcame the injuries. A year after the dreadful incident, the mother started the Stephanie Decker Foundation to help kids who have lost their limbs.
Looking back at the event, the mother also stated that she did not regret anything she did for her kids. Moreover, she believes it happened for a reason. "I don’t even think twice about it. I wouldn’t change it for a million bucks. Things happen for a reason. It was my time to step up," said Decker.
Cover Image Source: YouTube | WHAS11 (Stephanie Decker on finding her passion after Henryville tornado)