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MINNEAPOLIS — When we visited Tyler and Abby King at their home in Nashville, their sons, Knox and Bennett, were practicing their soccer skills, while Abby helped Tyler practice putting one foot in front of the other.
The couple started their journey in Minnesota when they met at age 15 at Southwest Christian High School and bonded over their love of music and shared faith.
The music lovers moved to Nashville when they got married, but they make it a point to come back home every year so their boys can experience Minnesota summers.
Last summer, the family had a big reason to celebrate: Abby’s youngest sister was getting married. Three nights before the wedding, the group got together at the A-Mill Artist Loft apartments near the Stone Arch Bridge in Minneapolis for a joint bachelor/bachelorette party.
As the party wound down, Tyler and his brother-in-law walked a guest to her car. A crowd had gathered a few blocks away. Suddenly, the sound of gunshots filled the air and Tyler was hit in the face by a stray bullet.
Abby received a call that Tyler had been shot and was urged to get to Hennepin County Medical Center as soon as possible.
At first, the news was good. Doctors said that despite being shot in the head, the bullet did minimal damage. However, the next morning Abby learned that Tyler had suffered a massive stroke and might never comprehend, walk or talk again. Doctors told her she had to make a decision on whether to continue his care.
While Tyler clung to life, Abby clung to her faith.
“I knew where Tyler is going when he’s gone and I know heaven would be a lot better place than here, especially since I didn’t know the extent of recovery that would be needed,” Abby said. “But I just said, ‘Lord, Tyler is yours, but I will fight like hell for him on Earth,’ and He told me to keep fighting.”
There have been so many tears on this journey but there’s been joy, too. The family felt both those emotions deeply three days later when Abby’s sister and family decided they would go through with the wedding. Abby said it was an emotional day, but that Tyler would have been upset if he was the reason the wedding was postponed.
The very next day, he opened his eyes and began a road to recovery that surprised his doctors. His breathing tube was removed and he was able to start eating on his own. Eventually, he was stable enough to be airlifted to a rehab facility in Chicago. There, he took his first steps and even his first bike ride. Finally, in September, Tyler came home.
Although Tyler’s recovery has been miraculous, a bullet fragment left him blind in his left eye and the stroke left him with no use of his right arm and limited use of his right leg. He can no longer read or write and can only speak in one- or two-word sentences, but he can understand complex ideas and follow conversations.
Tyler, Abby will tell you, is still Tyler. He is the same kind, patient and wise man he was before the accident.
The Kings don’t know where this journey will lead, but they are always fighting to get back as much function as they can for Tyler. Every day is a challenge, but they wake up each morning and say, “Okay, Lord. Keep writing this story.”
If you would like to help with Tyler’s very expensive and ongoing care, you can donate to the family’s GoFundMe.
The family will also hold a “boxing match” fundraiser on the evening of June 24 at Eden Prairie’s Gorilla Combat MMA Gym. The event includes boxing and Muay Thai matches, as well as other activities.
All of the funds and proceeds will be donated toward Tyler and his recovery. If you want to give ahead of the event, you can send your donation via Venmo to @Fight-For-Tyler.
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