MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

February 18, 2014

Near-fatal accident creates challenges, changes life

Power of prayer helps teacher survive, thrive after severe shock

By E.I. Hillin
Phoenix Staff Writer

— Down in a valley surrounded by pecan trees, tucked away south of Fort Gibson, lives a man who believes if it wasn’t for the power of prayer he would be dead.

“I don’t know if I’d be here if my brother didn’t pray for me in the wheat field,” Ronnie Darden said.

In 1983, Darden witnessed a car run off the road while traveling near of Claremore. He was with his family and his newlywed wife, Regina.

“The last thing I remember was looking both ways before crossing the road,” Darden said.

As he was crossing the road to help, a transformer blew, and he was severely shocked.

“My dad got to me first. He couldn’t find a pulse and turned back to tell Regina I was dead,” Darden said.

While his father was delivering the tragic news, Darden’s brother Randy picked him up. He carried him out into a wheat field on the side of the road.

After Randy Darden prayed over his brother’s body, Ronnie Darden woke up.

“I came around,” he said.

The event changed everyone’s life, Darden said.

“I was 25 at the time,” he said. “It was a catastrophic injury or situation.”

Regina Darden stood by her husband through the entire recovery process. Darden was in the hospital for 69 days and underwent 27 major surgeries.

The accident ended up taking both of Darden’s feet.

Darden said his mother told him that Regina was a very strong woman.

“She told me, ‘Women are like tea bags, you don’t know how strong they are until you put them in hot water.”

After 50 surgeries, the couple stopped counting.

Regina and Ronnie Darden will celebrate their 33rd anniversary in June. Their two children, Kayleigh and Drew, graduated from Fort Gibson High School.

Before the accident, Darden graduated from Central State University with a double major in Physical Education and Industrial Arts.

Today, Darden faces different challenges.

“The thing I find most challenging are things that you and I take for granted,” Darden said.

He has been a teacher at the Oklahoma School for the Blind for 22 years and is a Technology Education teacher. He finds unique ways to teach his students things like the concept of measurement.

“I believe teaching should be fun,” he said.

At the age of 18 or 19 Darden started whittling wood. It has been a passion that has stuck with Darden throughout his life. When he took a woodcarving class his teacher told him that he had an eye for detail.

“My abilities to see that in animals makes me different,” Darden said.

Looking back, Darden said he has always felt different.

“I always felt like I was below average.”

It is this very feeling that strives Darden to influence the students he teaches.

“The best thing you can do for a young individual is to build their self-esteem,” he said.

Reach E.I. Hillin at (918) 684-2926 or ehillin@muskogeephoenix.com.