Love from the heart can be felt even without feeling from touchBY CHUCK TUCK | JOURNAL REPORTER Daily struggles are a way of life for Lake Stevens resident Dan Pate.
Nearly 17 years ago Pate’s life took a radical and dramatic change the day he and his cousin took a drive.
“My cousin bought a used car from a car lot,” Pate said.
He explained that the car was just traded in, and the dealer had told his cousin that they had not had time to check it out yet since they just took it in on trade, but would sell the car for $500.
Pate explained that the woman who traded the car in was still on the lot looking for a car to buy.
Pate said that his cousin stopped by to pick him up to go for a ride in his newly purchased car and offered to treat him to a steak dinner in Monroe.
“I was 21 at the time, and what 21 year-old would pass up a steak dinner,” Pate said with a hint of laughter.
As they drove down US- 2 into Monroe, the brakes ceased and the accident happened.
“So at 54 mph on US-2, the brakes locked-up and we went end over end. I broke my neck, and had a minor fracture in my back and was trapped in the car, so they had to cut me out,” Pate said
Although it was a terrible tragedy, Pate says he looks at the incident in a different light.
“You know, it was a blessing, God put me in this chair for a reason, to help people; and I do that,” he said.
It wasn’t just an epiphany Pate had, but more that he just knew this was his calling.
He says that people in accidents just get turned loose now.
“I mentor other disabled people and I get moms who call me and say, god, my son’s a quad, he’s been injured and stuff. Now they just cut them loose, and I spent four months in the hospital,” Pate commented.
Pate now lives in an apartment and has been doing so for about two years. He says he feels really good and comfortable on his own.
He did point out however, he still has attended care, but they just don’t live there as they used to.
“Cheryl Dally is with me everyday, and I couldn’t do it without her,” Pate commented.
Family has always been important in Pate’s life, even before the tragedy.
“I have a good life, I’ve been blessed with great family, and great friends,” he said.
He singled out some individuals like his Father Monty Pate, brother Greg Pate, sister Mickie Wilkins, and friend Melissa Anderson.
Pate believes that love has more than just physical attributes.
“I feel with my heart and my mind, I’m more in-tune now than when I was walking,” Pate said. “I try to look at my cup as half-full, and each time I wake-up and see the ceiling, it’s a whole new day,” Pate added.
He said that that is the kind of attitude you have to have in order to keep going when you live his kind of life.
“Everyone needs a hug,” he added.
Something that has helped Pate regain his sense of independence has been hunting.
Even though he’s a quadriplegic, Pate says he has been able to enjoy hunting with his father and brother, and just this year harvested his largest dear; a 5-by-3 mule dear.
“That annual hunting trip is something I look forward to every year, about three months before it’s time, I’m just all giddy,” Pate said.
Having designed a bite trigger for his riffle has allowed Pate to pull the trigger and shoot his game for the harvest on his own.
“I designed the bite trigger myself,” Pate said proudly.
Pate wanted everyone to know that hunting in the Twisp area was necessary in order to keep the habitat healthy and sustainable for deer and other animals.
Without the harvest (hunt) he says the area could not be able to sustain the natural wildlife, especially during the winter months.
“Without hunting there is not enough vegetation to provide food for the deer and they would not survive throughout the winter,” Pate said.
He added that the Department of Fish and Wildlife ensures that hunters report in after a season with area and details on what species they may have harvested.
The more Pate spoke, the more, it was apparent that he has a zest for life and a love for his community.
“You just don’t get any better than Lake Stevens and the people in our town,” Pate said.