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Handing down lessons from tragedy 

Bad things happen to good people. It’s what a person does afterward that marks the difference between a victim and a victor. Jason Koger is a victor as a bilateral lower arm amputee and the first to receive bionic hands after a 2008 accident involving a downed power line. 

Koger, now a sought-after motivational speaker, shares his story in his book, Handed a Greater Purpose. Koger is able to share at greater length how that fateful day changed his life. 

Any lineworker would be quick to warn against the dangers of encountering a downed power line, and Koger knew this, too. But against the backdrop of the fields, he couldn’t see the line directly in his path as he rode an all-terrain vehicle around his Owensboro-area farm. The line contacted his arms, but he wasn’t shocked. Amazingly, Koger left the scene unharmed, but returned with a cousin, intending to mark the spot as hazardous to others. 

But, “this is where it gets a little foggy in my memory,” Koger writes. He recalls pointing toward the line, but thought he was far enough away not to make contact. Whether he was too close and touched the line or current traveled through him to the soil—as another grounded spot—Koger was shocked and both hands were seriously burned. A Vanderbilt University Medical Center surgeon saved Koger’s life by amputating both arms below the elbow while preserving as much viable tissue as possible to ensure the possibility of future prosthetics. 

Koger stayed positive. He credits his drive to his faith, to watching the lifelong hard work of his mother and father, and to knowing he had two little girls to raise. His rapid progress, adaptability and positive attitude wowed everyone on his rehabilitation journey. Doors opened for him to speak to other amputees to whom he could offer prosthetic tips and encouragement to embrace a different normal. 

In Handed a Greater Purpose, Ted DeBiase Jr., a former World Wrestling Entertainment champion, says, “I believe how we choose to respond to the traumatic, uncontrollable events in our life are some of the most defining moments … because it’s basically a crossroads. You can live the life of a victim and be mad, angry and bitter. Or you can take what God’s given you and look at it as an opportunity … that’s what Jason did.” 

As Jason explains in his book, “My number one goal is helping other people be successful and to show others that there is a God who will do some big, big things in your life—if you allow Him to.” 

Book a reminder of power line dangers 

Handed a Greater Purpose, Butler Books, $24.95, can be found online at Danny May and Karen Hunsanger are credited as contributing authors. Connect with Jason at 

If you spot a downed power line: 

• Assume the line is live, even if it is not sparking. 

• Stay at least 40 feet away and don’t go near the pole or anything touching the line. 

• Call 911 immediately. 

• Warn others until help arrives. 

• If your vehicle comes into contact with a downed line, stay inside and call 911. 

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