Some of us moms feel like we’re rocking motherhood if our kids have had vegetables more than three nights in one week.
Then there’s Stephanie Decker, who took motherhood to a whole new level.
Five years ago, Decker made a split-second decision to save her children instead of herself during a savage tornado that touched down in Henry, Indiana — losing both of her legs.
We’d like to think most moms would likely make the same instinctual move to protect their kids in an emergency — but few (thankfully) ever have to put that theory to the test. So it’s pretty amazing to hear Decker’s real-life tale of sacrifice and survival (we bet her kids get plenty of vegetables too).
The story: On March 2, 2012, Stephanie Decker had arrived home with her kids, Dominic, 8, and Reese, 5. The wind was picking up, so the family descended into the basement, where she thought they’d be safe.
The wind had other plans, quickly shifting into a full-blown tornado.
“I looked up and I saw our trampoline that was staked in the ground go flying across the yard,” Decker said. “Then the entire house started to shake. I became petrified at that point and one of the windows busted in.”
Thinking fast, Decker seized a blanket, wrapped both children in it, and lay across both of them. And that’s when the foundation separated from the house.
An F-4 tornado — 175 mph winds — ripped through their home and everything began to dissolve into pure chaos. Decker glanced up to see a massive steel I-beam falling. Her steady thinking in this moment was nothing short of amazing.
“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,” she said. “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.’”
This is a woman you want on your side during a zombie apocalypse. She’s better than Daryl and Carol combined.
The beam landed on Stephanie’s legs, crushing her bones completely and trapping her. Another tornado funnel steamed toward their home as she desperately tried to keep her kids covered beneath her. A pillar on their home tore off — and flew toward her 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,” Decker said. “I twisted my body and it broke eight ribs and punctured my lung.”
We have no words for this woman and her amazing cool-headedness during a life-threatening catastrophe. Speechless.
When the tornadoes passed through, her children bolted to find help for their mother. As Decker lay there hoping for rescue, she made a vow to herself: “I knew if I could get out of here I would somehow try and make an impact,” she said.
Done and done. Just a year after the tornadoes demolished her home — and her legs and life as she knew it — she created the Stephanie Decker Foundation. The foundation has helped 250 kids who have lost limbs attend athletics camps. Decker herself is now a runner with the help of prosthetic legs.
Does she have regrets? Nope. None.
As for us, we might walk the dog today. Or leave work early to hug our kids for 20 minutes straight while they squirm and yell ew, gross.
Decker didn’t stop there. She also travels the U.S. as a motivational speaker.
As for their home, Decker and husband, Joe, opted not to rebuild in the same town. They live 15 minutes from the tragedy in Sellersburg, Indiana.
What’s next for Stephanie Decker? Well, we have no doubt she’ll continue rocking motherhood — and she’s jonesing for a chance to appear on Dancing with the Stars. Hell, yes. DWTS, sign this woman up. We’d far rather watch Stephanie Decker than an ’80s soap star or an ex-NFL player.
Plus, come on: she’d totally win.