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A Father's Wish

June 19, 2012, 10:19 PM by Kellee Azar

A Father's Wish
SIOUX FALLS, SD -

Most fathers look forward to walking their daughter down the aisle on their wedding day.  For one KELOLAND man, that dream was threatened. But with strength and perseverance, he defied the odds.

Every little girl dreams of this moment. For Jim Kapperman and his daughter, it's a memory they weren't sure they'd be able to share.

"To walk her down the aisle and get her down the aisle and maybe even that last father-daughter dance," Jim said.

Dancing, let alone walking, seemed impossible after an accident left the father of two young girls without feeling in most of his body.

"I got in an accident with a bulldozer and just bucked my head on the seat in the roll cage and fell back in the seat and couldn't feel anything from the neck down," Jim said.

Jim had been operating heavy equipment for more than two decades and never imagined his job could threaten his dreams.

"I heard the doctor in the hall and he was talking to my wife and was telling her to get ready for a quadriplegic," Jim said.

But Jim didn't accept that as his fate; he was determined to make his own destiny.

He spent months in the hospital.  There were many sleepless nights until he found inspiration and drive from his daughters.

"So I was talking to the big man above and I say, 'You know, I got two daughters I would like to walk down the aisle," Jim said.

At the time of the accident, his daughter, Kimberly, was in the fourth grade and didn't fully understand her father's injuries.

"I didn't think much of it because I thought, 'Oh, maybe he just fell down and scraped his knee and he's bleeding,'" Kimberly said.

But as she got older, she learned she needed to stand by his side so maybe someday he could stand by hers.

"I felt that just because he was disabled doesn't mean he can't live a normal life," Kimberly said.

So with the help of his family, and others dealing with similar injuries, Jim pushed his body to its limits.

He's gone to physical therapy every week for fourteen years.

"We had good groups in the therapy too.  We had good therapists; they didn't give up on us.  We had our own little joking group; we kept the rehab floor alive for a while," Jim said.

It was those groups and the inspiration of someday walking his girls down the aisle that eventually gave Jim the strength to fulfill his dream.

For Kimberly, it is more than a walk with her father, but a fulfillment of a dream and a symbol of the relationship they got through this accident.

"We had a lot of bonding time so to speak that if he wouldn't have had the accident, we wouldn't have because he would have been at work; I would have been doing my thing," Kimberly said.

It's a gift she'll always be thankful for.  And now that his wish came true, this proud father of the bride has advice for the daughters who helped him through the toughest time in his life.

"Take it one day at a time, plan ahead a little and just enjoy life and go with the roll," Jim said.

And remember, with love and support, just about anything is possible.

Jim says he still has a ways to go in his recovery, but now with the confidence after walking his daughter down the aisle this past May, he knows he can accomplish anything.

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