His physical life derailed by a freak injury, Ted Stamp eventually moved on spiritually, as is detailed in his new book.
MARSHALL – Back in the summer of 1993, Ted Stamp had just graduated from high school and was looking forward to going to college.
Less than a month after graduation, he sustained a spinal cord injury that left him a quadriplegic and paralyzed from the chest down.
Stamp’s memoir, “This Was Just the Way,” was recently published and is described as “a collection of candid reflections on life before and after disability, in particular the three-year period that began with a spinal cord injury and ended with a spiritual metamorphosis.”
Stamp has lived in Marshall since 1996 and is a graduate of Southwest Minnesota State University with degrees in creative writing/literature and secondary education: language arts. He works as an independent living advocate for people with disabilities.
Stamp was born and raised in Huron, S.D. He said he was working for the Huron Parks and Recreation Department, doing park maintenance. That summer, it rained nearly every day. On the morning of June 29, 1993, Stamp said he and some of his co-workers had to go to break early. They were goofing off, and Stamp went to grab one of the guys around the waist.
“Whether we slipped or lost our balance,” Stamp said, the other guy’s chest came down on top of his neck. Stamp hit the ground, and a couple of minutes later, he said he couldn’t feel his legs.
In the opening part of the book, Stamp gives a little synopsis about growing up in Huron. It then goes stage by stage, going through the injury to his first three years of life after the injury.
He spent six months at Sioux Valley Hospital in Sioux Falls, S.D. He said in the hospital, it was mostly a fog. Stamp said he was fortunate enough to live with his parents for the next seven months, doing outpatient rehab. He said he learned about adjusting to his injury. At the time of his injury, he was on his way to college.
“I was looking forward to it,” he said.
His family learned about Courage Center in Golden Valley. Stamp went there from July 1994 to March 1995, doing intensive rehabilitation. He learned about anything that was related to independent living. Some things he found he could do, while there were some things he learned he couldn’t do.
After the Courage Center, Stamp moved into an apartment in New Brighton with an old buddy of his. The friend had helped Stamp early on after the injury, as did other close friends, and served as a caregiver.
With time, Stamp said he got better; he was smiling and was accepting of his injury. But at the end of the day, he would think “this is my future.” This led to his conversion, he said.
“Instantly, it was peace,” he said.
In spring of 1996, Stamp attended a cantata, which changed his life.
“By the end of it, God had moved in my heart, and I surrendered my life to Christ,” Stamp said. He said he was still struggling at that time, as it had been almost three years since the injury and nothing was changing. But the event had radically changed him.
He was looking to move out of the Twin Cities area, and his parents investigated SMSU. He moved to Marshall and graduated from SMSU.
Throughout the years, Stamp has been invited to speak at different events, whether it’s about his testimony of coming to Christ or his injury. For example, he has talked to certified nursing assistant classes about what it’s like being a caregiver for someone with an injury like his.
“After (the talks) so many people say, ‘man, you should write a book,” Stamp said.
At the time, Stamp said he didn’t have the motivation to write a book.
“I really started praying about it,” he said. Through a series of events “it was made clear to me, I had the divine go-ahead for me,” he said.
It took three years for him to write the book, Stamp said. He read a lot of memoirs and started getting ideas from them on how to write his story. It talks about the three years after the injury until he was born again. It includes snippets of his daily life.
In the last couple of months since his book came out, Stamp said he’s gotten a lot of positive support. Some said they’ve read it in one to two days, he said. Stamp is doing a kick-off book signing at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Marshall-Lyon County Library. He is also a guest author at the South Dakota State Fair in Huron and is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 3, in the Arts and Ed Building.