Klarance Butler receives IL Cares Courage Award
Klarance Butler was a promising basketball player who also loved water sports, but he was in a near fatal car accident in 2014 and currently utilizes a wheelchair to get around. On Monday April 1, he received the Island Luck (IL) Cares Foundation’s Courage Award at the Bahamas National High School Basketball Championships in Freeport, Grand Bahama.
Butler was selected for his perseverance and his faith to one day walk again.
He was a combo guard at the Church of God of Prophecy Academy and later moved to the United States. He had a promising career until he had a life-changing accident after returning home from playing basketball in 2014.
Butler doesn’t remember the exact date he got the call about the award, but he knows it was a Sunday. A drummer in his church, he remembers listening to Travis Greene’s “Be Still and Know That I am God” song that morning, and reflected on his own life.
After church, he and Karelle Butler, his sister, stopped to a Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) outlet when he got a call from Evon Wisdom, head of the sports unit in the Ministry of Education and one of the organizers of the high school nationals. Wisdom called him and invited him and his mother to Grand Bahama to receive the courageous award.
He said they started to celebrate.
Butler said about the morning of May 9, 2014: “I was on a basketball court – so my family told me. I went to drop one of my friends somewhere at about 2 a.m. I was heading back home after dropping him off. I was heading up Collins Avenue near Island Luck just past Crab House & Seafood Emporium. I was heading across the light – so I was told. I was struck from a car on the passenger side and my car hit a lamp post. I was unconscious for six months in the hospital.”
It was a miracle that he survived the accident. Today, Butler said he is on the right path to realizing his dream.
“It came to me that time went past, and I actually spent my birthday in the hospital. I was 23 when I got into an accident and I turned 24 while in the hospital,” Butler said.
Theresa Butler, his mother, said when she got the phone call about the accident her heart sank, but she just prayed it and asked for God’s blessing.
Klarance Butler continued: “I did not do any therapy while at Princess Margaret Hospital. My original plan was to go to the United States but because of financial issues I had to resort to doing therapy in Nassau. There was a therapist who was recommended to me who told me that he would have me walking within one month at a cost of 14,000 dollars. We received help from a donor whose name that I have to withhold.”
After the therapist saw Butler was not getting the results he needed, it was suggested that he should see a second person.
“He came with us to Cuba to see what was going to be done to me,” said Butler. “We stayed in Cuba for one week and went to two different hospitals – one referred me to the next one. My therapist wanted them to snip behind my knee but the Cuban doctors said that surgery was the last resort. My therapist wanted to see what machine they were going to use and what they were going to be doing to me and did not recommend it. The doctors in Cuba would have done therapy for a price of 11,000 dollars and have me walking in five weeks.”
Butler said he didn’t have any funds to go through with the procedure, but did not give up. Before the accident he worked at Bahamas Fast Ferries and still wants to be a boat captain one day.
“Dr. Valentine Grimes referred me to Dr. Carlton Chambers after doing an X-ray on my spine and two weeks later, Dr. Grimes told me that my spine was completely healed. I asked him if I was doing another surgery because I have two rods and eight screws that keep my spine aligned. I asked if they were going to take the rods out and he told me they do not want to bother with the spine because the spine is the whole function of the body. He wrote me a referral to get another therapy done and I was referred to Dr. Carlton Chambers. He told me to do the therapy and strengthen up my legs to get them very strong to do a surgery on my pelvic area. He wanted to straighten out the pelvic area and do a snipping behind the knee,” Butler said. “I took long to go back to them and so the muscles contracted. I did the therapy and I saw major progress, but I had another setback. I did not have enough funds to go back in a timely manner. I eventually went back and saw him and was pleased with the results. He wanted to know if I wanted to continue therapy or surgery, but I told him that if the therapy was working then I was going to continue. I got another referral to go the Princess Margaret’s rehabilitation center. There, I got more positive results and I felt that I was not getting it fast enough.”
Butler was visible courtside during the high school nationals, laughing and enjoying the action. He said he felt like going on the court and playing again.
The optimistic Butler went back to Dr. Chambers in the beginning of the year after his therapy was completed in November of last year. He said his muscles began to lock up again which was not good, but his legs were stronger. Dr. Chambers told him to go back to doing gym work which he is currently doing to get his legs as strong as possible.
He said he is going back to see Dr. Chambers on May 23. That is when they will set the date for him to do the surgery.
Butler is doing water therapy and exercising to get his legs stronger. In addition, he attends MacFit360 Gym, and is constantly driving and moving round and doing things for himself. He admits that mentally, it gets overwhelming and stressful at times.
Butler is a physical education teacher at Crestwood Academy, and coaches basketball.
He said he is grateful to be alive after such an accident, particularly since he lost his cousin late last month in a car accident. He said everyday is a good day and he tries not to be negative.
Butler feels that one day he will be out the wheelchair and he want others like him to have hope and to not give up.
He was recognized before the start of the championship game between the St. George’s Jaguars and the Tabernacle Baptist Academy Falcons. The excited Butler said he had warmed up his wrists in case he was asked to shoot the ball.
He longs for the day to one day get back on the court again.
Education: College of the Bahamas, BA Media Journalism