Man Who Thought He’d Never Walk Again After a Spinal Cord Injury To Address Republican Convention: Meet Brock Mealer

He was told he had just a 1% chance of walking again after a 2007 car crash that killed his father and his brother’s girlfriend…

Brock Mealer at the University of Michigan

By Lev Facher
Special to the Detroit Free Press

July 16, 2016

Brock Mealer’s story has been told in front of sellout crowds at Michigan Stadium and on television screens around the country. On Thursday, he’ll tell it once more at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.

The brother of former Michigan offensive lineman Elliott Mealer, Brock was once told he had just a 1% chance of walking again after a 2007 car crash that killed his father and Elliott’s girlfriend.

Paralyzed from the waist down, Brock hit his rehab head-on, even spending the summer of 2010 training with Michigan’s strength and conditioning staff. He eventually overcame the odds to walk again and led Michigan out of the tunnel before its 2010 season opener.

Brock Mealer talking to a reporter

“One of the things that is going to be in my heart is to speak about my faith,” Mealer said. “There’s certainly a lot of bad news out there in the world, and I’ve really had a powerful message to share. I’ve been blessed with so much, and I really would like to share one of the positive stories in the world in the hopes that somehow, some way, things can be better and will be better.”

The Republican National Committee first reached out to Mealer last Thursday about speaking at the convention, asking him simply to tell his story and describe why the upcoming election is so important.

Mealer acknowledged this election cycle in particular has had its share of surprises and that candidates from both major parties have had their share of missteps.

As someone who’s struggled with physical disability for nearly a decade, one instance that might have caught Mealer’s eye was a press conference in which presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump was accused of mocking a disabled New York Times reporter.

“I certainly am aware of the story, and I can say that on either side of the aisle not a fan of some of the rhetoric that’s been out there,” Mealer said. “I’m also aware of the fact that with the way these candidates are out there all of the time, there’s so much information and so many stories, so I can just really see where things can be misinterpreted. Each candidate has their moments of fault for whatever reason.”

While Mealer was surprised to see Trump win the Republican nomination, he is enthusiastic in his support for the candidate. He also sees speaking at the Republican National Convention as an opportunity too good to pass up under any circumstance, especially given his upbringing.

Mealer’s aunt, Sandy Mealer Barber, is the Republican Party chair in Fulton County, Ohio, and a delegate at the convention. She deserves at least some of the credit for the speaking gig, which comes on the convention’s final day in the hours leading up to Trump closing out the event.

“I had an operative call me, and they were interested in finding young people in business to make television spots for the Republican Party,” Barber said.

Brock, who has taken over as manager for his grandfather’s concrete company in Bryan, Ohio, seemed like the perfect fit.

“Next thing I know, he’s speaking at the Republican Convention,” Barber said. “We’re all so proud of him.”

When the call came, Mealer said the decision was easy.

“In my mind, there’s not really an opportunity like that that I would pass up or take lightly to have that kind of stage to stand on,” he said. “But in terms of Donald Trump as the nominee, there’s a lot of things with him that I relate to, that I would like to see change in the world. I really do, looking at the candidates we have out there, feel that Donald Trump can do a lot of great things for the country.”

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