Saturday, June 27, 2009

Lovin' life

Story and photos by Bruce Thorson

June 27, 2009, Arapahoe, Neb: "I woke up from surgery and was paralyzed," That was November 1979. Dennis Monter was 15 then. He had been in a motor vehicle accident.

I spent the morning with Dennis out at the 4-H trap shoot facility. "I just love working with kids," he said. He supervised the shotgun trap shooting.

Back in '79, Monter didn't think he had been seriously hurt when he pulled out from a stop, right into the path of another car. It hit him broadside. "I was more concerned with my friends with me in the car," he said. "I didn't think I was hurt too bad."

He was taken to the hospital in Kearney. He had a broken pelvis and a blood mass inside his chest. A doctor ordered him to Lincoln immediately.

That was before hospitals used helicopters. "My dad followed the ambulance down, told me later, at times we were going 130 miles an hour."

Lincoln doctors told him his aorta was damaged and needed surgery to repair it. They believe that a small piece of the damaged aorta broke loose and caused a stroke in his spine, which left him paralyzed from the waist down.

Now he's 44 years old, he works fulltime for a telephone company and handles the IT for its customers.

Back out at the trap shoot, "Pull!" one of the youngsters would yell. Monter had a hand-held device, pushed a button and out would fly the clay target from a concrete bunker located just a few yards in front of the shooters. Most of the time the youngsters would hit the saucer-like target, sending clay pieces flying out in different directions in the air.

After running all the age groups through their shooting competitions, everyone assembled inside for the awards. As kids, clutching their ribbons and medals, and parents shuffled past Monter to the door, many patted him on the shoulder and said "Good job Dennis. You're a good instructor."

"Thanks" he said. "Hope to see you back here next year."

Monter supervises shooters during the shotgun trap shoot competition.

Monter said he loves working with kids and teaching them to use guns safely and effectively for competitions.

In the clubhouse, Monter was constantly busy getting scoring sheets, meeting time schedules for competions and getting the kids to the right locations for the meet.

He said he loves to hunt and fish, believes his life is exactly the way it is supposed to be. After the meet concluded, he headed home to mow his yard. He has a remote controlled lawn mower. He said he gets a few people staring at it when they see it operating without anyone behind it.

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