BOSTON (CBS) — Kevin Flike is savoring a beautiful fall day at the park, playing with his two young daughters.
“It means everything to me to be able to do that,” said the young father. “They have been the inspiration for me during the darkest times; knowing that they were around, that they loved me.”
It’s a simple joy, made more meaningful by the journey that brought Flike to this place in his life.
It was September of 2011; Kevin Flike’s second tour of duty in Afghanistan. After a 10-hour firefight, he was shot in stomach. He also suffered a fractured hip, damage to his femoral nerve and was paralyzed on his left side.
But even as he began the recovery process in an intensive care unit in Germany, he told anyone who would listen that he was going to run a marathon. At that point, Flike couldn’t have known the kind of marathon he was beginning; from the physical rehab that would lead to an addiction to painkillers, to the psychological difficulty of transitioning back to civilian life.
“Going through everything that I went through – the depression, the anxiety, the PTSD, the addition; it’s just such a humbling experience,” says Flike.
The path that helped him emerge from his own personal darkness is something he now shares with those navigating similar obstacles.
“You have to set yourself a big goal — a really big fat hairy goal at the end of the tunnel,” he said. “But you also have to set small gates along the way, to mark your milestones and to celebrate your successes, so you don’t get too discouraged along the way.”
Five years removed from Afghanistan, Flike’s life was back on track. But in focusing on his mind and soul, he had neglected his body.
“I’ll never forget December of 2016, Christmas Day; having to lay on the ground and watch my kids open their presents because my back hurt so bad, and not being able to play with them that whole day,” he recalled.
He knew then he needed to make his health a priority, for himself and for his family. That eventually brought Kevin to the TB12 Center in Foxboro. Admittedly skeptical at the outset, he says the TB12 Method has allowed him to get off his prescription pain medication and live a normal, active life.
“After just one visit there, it was a very noticeable difference for me,” Flike explained. “The more that I bought into the program, the better everything got, so it drew me in even more. It just increased my quality of life significantly.”
Today, Kevin is able to run again; he’s completed three 30-mile endurance events in the past year. He can play with his daughters, and he says he’s found his purpose in sharing the lessons he’s learned along the way.
Kevin was also the inspiration for TB12 to partner with the Green Beret Foundation and Mass Fallen Heroes to offer training sessions to more veterans.
“It’s hard for people to believe when I say this, but getting shot was the best that ever happened to me because of what it gave me in my life; to be able to see things more clearly, to understand what I want out of life,” he said. “Where my life has progressed to now, from where I was – laying in that bed – is unbelievable. Every morning, I wake up and thank God for how lucky I am.”
And that marathon he talked about right after he was shot? Kevin will run his first Boston Marathon next April as a member of the TB12 Foundation marathon team.