The People Icons episode Heroes & Survivors tells stories of real-life survival from real-life heroes including Stephanie Decker. In March 2012, her husband Joe called her at their Indiana home to tell her that a EF4 tornado was coming and to get into the basement. She took their two children, 8-year-old Dominic and 5-year-old Reese with her. Dominic, now 13, compares the sound of the tornado to “a train running over the house.” Joe kept texting “Are you okay?” but he didn’t get a response. “It gave me a sick feeling in my stomach,” he says. He knew something was wrong.
When the tornado swept their home from the ground, Stephanie shielded her children with her body. A steel beam crashed down on top of her and she lost both her legs. “That day was a life changer for me,” she tells People Magazine. “I could have felt sorry for myself. Instead, I said, Let’s make a difference and see if you can help other people and change lives.” She has since founded the Stephanie Decker Foundation which helps hundreds of children with missing limbs go to able-body sports camps. She is also a motivational speaker, see/hear her TEDx Talk below which includes a clip of her and her family surfing! (It’s worth watching for her pedicure line alone.) Heroes & Survivors airs Tuesdays at 10pm on ABC.