HOUSTON – For thirty years, Brian Shirley put his life on the line fighting fires, saving people as an assistant EMT and helping us all learn more about protecting ourselves from fire as the media spokesperson for the Cy-Fair Volunteer Fire Department.
“Service to people and saving lives is all I’ve ever really known,” said Shirley while talking about working as a Cy-Fair Volunteer Firefighter for more than three decades.
“It’s just been very, very heartbreaking to me that I can’t be out there helping people right now, because my whole life I was out there helping,” Shirley said.
The problem is, nine months ago, Shirley’s active life suddenly and tragically came to a crushing, life-altering halt.
After wading through a house full of water that came streaming down the walls because of broken pipes caused by the ice storm, Shirley developed a severe infection in his right foot.
That infection turned into flesh-eating bacteria, which started to devour Shirley’s right leg.
Within weeks, it was so bad that Shirley had to have his leg amputated almost all the way to his hip.
But, Shirley lost more than just his leg.
Unable to work, Shirley lost his job at a restaurant, lost his home, lost his car and was suddenly left without health insurance and no way to pay for the one thing he needed most, a prosthetic leg that would allow him to walk again.
“It has been horrible. I feel (like) I can’t provide for my family right now, and that’s the hardest part of all this,” Shirley said.
With nowhere else to turn and sick of being confined to a wheelchair, Shirley contacted the Spencer Solves It team.
Spencer Solves It reached out to the prosthetic limp specialists at Unlimited Prosthetics in Houston.
After hearing Shirley’s story, Erika Sanchez and her dedicated crew began designing and crafting a state-of-the-art, carbon fiber, artificial leg built to best serve Shirley’s needs and get him back walking again.
Immediately, without even thinking about it, Sanchez agreed to provide Shirley with everything he needed to get walking again, including that leg, for free.
“I have to thank my team for all their work. We built a prosthesis for Shirley that will not only help him start walking again, but will actually help him advance to further capabilities”, Erika said.
In fact, Erika believes Shirley will be able to actually run soon because of his physical strength and determination.
In a room filled with supporters, his wife, Michelle, and the technicians who built the leg, Shirley took his first steps after being trapped in a wheelchair for seven months.
“Right now, I’m just feeling so grateful to everyone. It’s been such a difficult journey, not just for me, but for my family,” Shirley said.
He also added that with his freedom back, he promises to live an improved life.
If you would like to contribute to Shirley’s recovery, visit his GoFundMe.