It’s no small miracle that Brady Winans is standing and not confined to a wheelchair, as seen in the photo with members of his Hunt Regional Medical Center physical therapy support team in his hometown of Greenville, Texas.
Of course, that’s not enough for the fishing-obsessed Winans. Nineteen months after a horrific boat crash, he’s back on the water — and collecting checks.
Winans, a longtime fishing industry sales rep for brands like Huk, Costa, 6th Sense and Falcon Rods, broke more bones than Humpty Dumpty following a fog-related crash when his longtime fishing partner’s bass boat hit the rip rap dam on Cedar Creek reservoir two weeks before Christmas 2021.
Ejected from the boat at 40 mph, Winans’ body was tossed onto the jagged rocks. He sustained several fractures, including to his back. He had to be transported to a hospital by helicopter from the top of the dam he’d planned to throw an Alabama Rig on just a few minutes earlier.
“I broke a lot of big stuff, including my back, collar bone, ribs, femur, and my ankle was basically a bag of broken pieces,” said the 48-year-old father of two young boys.
“So, yeah, the people you see in the photo with me, along with the incredible staff at UT Tyler, where I was hospitalized for three months, are like family. They’re the crew that had to put Humpty Dumpty back together again,” Winans said with a grin.
Word of his accident spread quickly to fellow anglers as well as his fishing industry family, and the display of generosity that ensued still brings him to tears.
“For starters, my longtime boss, Russell Cecil, who is a great salesman but an even better person, assured me that no matter how long it took me to recover, I’d always have a job with Sunbelt Sales, and that if I needed to work from home, instead of visiting our dealers for a while, that was fine too,” Winans said.
To offer further financial support, anglers and the fishing industry rallied big time. A GoFundMe account raised $45,000 for Winans, top pros raffled off fishing trips in his honor and fishing companies donated thousands of dollars in merchandise to a silent auction. Plus, 6th Sense sold special edition “Build Back Brady” T-shirts that raised another $9,000, and 85 teams showed up to raise even more money at a benefit tournament on Lake Tawakoni.
“When you see all that, when people ranging from Bassmaster Classic champions to people you’ve never met are contributing their time and money to help heal you, there’s just no way I could give up physically or mentally,” he said.
Even more so than himself or anybody else, Winans has battled for his wife, Val, and their two boys. “I’m so blessed to have a sweet wife who’s a nurse, and I’ll tell you, a huge percentage of my will and motivation comes from her, because I don’t want to let her down,” he said.
Winans hasn’t let anybody down. In fact, he’s inspired thousands, largely by frequently posting his challenges and progress on social media.
And yes, he’s back in a bass boat. Winans fished from the back deck alongside partner Stan Lawing in a highly competitive Bass Champs team trail event on Lake Tawakoni in June. Throwing a 6th Sense Vega frog and 6th Sense swim jig, he and Lawing finished in 37th place, good enough for his first Toyota Bonus Bucks check since his accident.
The new Tundra CrewMax Limited he purchased is equipped with hand-control brake and accelerator devices because he’s still working hard to regain full use of his legs, ankles and feet. And while he does utilize a wheelchair frequently, he’s extremely self-motivated to use his Loftstrand crutches as much as possible, with the ultimate goal of someday needing neither.
Nobody’s betting against him — not his physical therapy team, not his friends nor fellow anglers. And certainly not the head coach and quarterback of his support team, Val, the one he fights hardest for, along with their two young sons, in the ongoing effort to Build Back Brady.
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