Local 20-Year-Old Learns to Thrive Again After Traumatic Brain Injury

We all want to find our passion in life – that thing that revs us up, makes us tick and soothes our soul. Eddie Kelley found his passion on a dirt bike. He first engaged in dirt bike racing when he was 14 years old as a fun activity to do with his dad. It didn’t take long, however, for racing to take center stage.

“It consumed my life,” says Eddie. “More than that, it drastically changed my life.”

Eddie began participating in various racing competitions, most notably the Grand National Cross Country racing series for amateurs, which involves two-hour races with venues spanning from Florida to Indiana.

eddie kelleyIn 2019 Eddie attended his first Fuel Ministry camp. The camp includes daily devotions, a nighttime chapel service, and lots of adrenaline-pumping dirt bike riding. Eddie adored Fuel Ministry so much that he began working as a summer intern in 2021. On July 24, 2023, he was riding at a camp in Ohio when he had a seemingly minor accident that turned worse when the bike landed on his head, causing significant damage to his helmet. An emergency medical technician saw that his breathing was shallow, and his pupils were twitching in different directions.

Staff notified his parents that Eddie was being airlifted to the nearest trauma hospital to be treated for a traumatic brain injury.

eddie kelley

“In that moment, everything stopped,” recalls his mom, Jamie. She grabbed her Bible, and she and her husband jumped in the car and started driving. When they saw their 19-year-old son lying unconscious and hooked up to countless tubes, they fell to their knees and prayed. And they weren’t the only ones. Their friends and family, their church community, Fuel Ministry staff and campers, and even a tribe in Africa were all lifting Eddie in prayer.

“There were thousands of people praying,” says Jamie.

Eddie was in an intensive care unit for eight days, the first two in a coma. He was intubated, and when nurses initially turned off the machine to see if he could breathe on his own, he could not.

“That was a big realization that this machine was keeping my son alive,” Jamie says.

Doctors didn’t know what kind of long-term issues Eddie could have. It was wait and see, one day at a time.

“At one point my husband said to me, ‘You know, Jamie, God is still a good God even if our prayers aren’t answered the way we’re asking,’” says Jamie. “We didn’t know what would happen, but God gave us this sense of peace.”

Upon arriving at the hospital, a CT scan revealed several brain bleeds. Doctors placed a pressure sensor in Eddie’s head, which they watched for 48 hours. If it reached a certain number, it would necessitate removing some of his skull to relieve the pressure. The next day he had another CT scan, which showed that one spot had disappeared. The following day, a third scan detected no brain bleeds.

“That was the power of prayer,” says his dad.

eddie kelley

When Eddie awoke in the hospital room, he had no recollection of what had happened.

He would fall asleep and wake up needing a recap again and again.

“It was like the movie ‘50 First Dates,’ in which the character wakes up with fresh amnesia every day,” says Eddie, who repeatedly asked the same questions.

The moment Eddie realized he couldn’t walk, he cried, screamed, fought and wrestled to get up. One time he did, but he couldn’t stay standing.

“I felt so frustrated because I wanted to get back to what I loved, and yet I couldn’t even walk or stand on my own,” Eddie says.

Early in his recovery, Eddie struggled to feel God’s presence. One day he called out, “God, where are you?” Nevertheless, he never lost faith. While in the hospital, Eddie’s parents played Christian music, read scripture to him and prayed. One day they assured him that he was going to be OK. Eddie replied, “I know. You taught me well. I know Jesus is with me.”

After two weeks in the trauma hospital, Eddie was transported to a rehab hospital in Indianapolis where he spent 10 days. While there, he learned to walk again. His short-term memory also continued to improve. On August 19 he was discharged and began outpatient occupational, speech and physical therapy. Throughout the fall, Eddie received hyperbaric oxygen therapy, which involved him lying in a chamber and being fed pure oxygen to accelerate brain cell healing. His therapists encouraged him to get back to doing the things he did prior to the accident as soon as possible, to help reconnections form in the brain. In November 2023 Eddie mounted his dirt bike for the first time since July.eddie kelley

“The more time I spend on the bike, the more things click,” he says.

It was never a question of if, but when he would return to his passion.

“This isn’t a hobby for me,” says Eddie. “It’s my identity, my ministry. I need to live life to the fullest and not be scared. None of us know what the future holds. My accident taught me that it’s important to do things you love while you can.”

In December Eddie celebrated his 20th birthday with his parents and sister, Angelle. He has a fresh perspective on life. For starters, he jumps out of bed now because he can.

“It’ll take a lot to ever say a day is bad again,” says Eddie, who feels confident in God’s master plan. “God pushed my papers back across the table. It seems he still has stuff for me to do here on Earth.”

Comments 9

  1. Carl Doughty says:

    Loved it. Sounds like Job to me.


  2. Teresa Yoakum says:

    Amazing story and shows the power of faith is so powerful and knowing that others were praying for him and his family. It’s also knowing he appreciates every day like we all should cause life can change in a instant…

  3. Lee Harrison says:

    Eddie’s recovery was an answered prayer! Such a great family who was able to glorify God in such a terrible time! One of many of the miracles of Jesus Christ!

  4. Karen May says:

    Your son’s recovery was nothing short of a miracle!
    He had a strong family and loving friends for support.
    God gave your son back stronger and more determined. I truly hope he continues to improve!
    Karen (cashier)

  5. Nancy Weiss says:

    Praise be to our God for your recovery – I am thankful that He wanted you here, this side of heaven a bit longer so that your family could still have more time with you before your time comes to be in heaven!

  6. Priscilla Baker says:

    🎼Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow!
    Eddie, you are a true Blessing and your life gives witness to the power of prayer along with your hard work and determination. What an inspiration you are and thank you for sharing your “God Story,” young man of God!

  7. Adella says:

    Beautiful article. God answered our prayers. Thank you!

  8. Deb Phelps says:

    God still performs miracles; Eddie is proof of that! Like Lazarus continued his earthly life after Jesus raised him from the dead, Eddie will now continue his life on earth with the awareness that God saved him physically as well as spiritually. Praise God from whom all blessings flow! We can let this miracle strengthen our faith in our good God, the one and only God, our we can ignore it. As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord with joy and confidence.

  9. Marcia Jones says:

    I so loved you sharing Eddie’s story today at BSF, Jamie!! Priscilla sent me this sight so I could better understand all that happened to him. He is a walking Miracle of God!! So thankful for his healing!! Praise God for his healing and his ministry to others!!

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