KNOX, Pa. (KDKA) — One year ago, a local boy’s arm was severed in a horrific farm accident.
But now, a year later, he’s playing baseball again, going hunting and developing his skills as a motivational speaker.
It may not be completely accurate to call Seth Apel your typical teenaged boy, but that’s how he wants the world to see him.
He loves the outdoors and helping his parents at their sprawling property in Knox, Clarion County. He’s quite the sportsman, too. He’s learned to do it all with the full use of just one of his arms.
Exactly one year ago, Seth’s right arm was completely torn off. His sleeve got caught in a machine while unloading firewood.
“The PTO, power takeoff outlet… it spins really fast and that was moving the gears, which moved the chain to unload the logs, and so this was the power behind what took my arm off,” says Seth.
Paramedics needed ice for the ride to the medical helicopter, so Seth’s grandfather grabbed bags of frozen vegetables and the EMTs packed his arm with those.
Dr. Lorelei Grunwald and her team of surgeons were able to reattach the limb at Children’s Hospital. After several surgeries, and now rigorous physical therapy, Seth is still hoping to regain more use in the arm.
It’s the one he hits and catches with in his beloved sport of baseball. So, that is part of his therapy regimen, too.
“He wants to play baseball in college,” says Josh Apel, Seth’s father. “Even if he didn’t get 100 percent, I don’t see that as a hindrance. He would have the determination to work at it and be able to do that. So his future is wide open, really.”
Seth is a hard worker and a jokester with an attitude that’s infectious.
“He could be very depressed, not wanting to be out. He’s using his story to motivate others, and the parents are there with him being very supportive every step of the way,” says Raegan Fair, of Clarion Rehabilitation Services.
“Well, it gives me a different perspective on how disabled people can do stuff, and it was pretty challenging at first, especially writing, but I put my mind to it and I was able to play baseball,” Seth says. “I don’t think I’m different than anyone else. Whatever they can do, I try to do.”
So now he’s on a new mission, spreading his message of faith and positive thinking through motivational speaking.
Seth: “I’ve had lots of people come up and say what they’ve been going through, and how what I said could impact them and help them get through stuff.”
KDKA’s Kym Gable: “You feel like you’re changing lives?”
The ordeal has changed all of their lives in ways others might find surprising.
“It’s been a wonderful year. I mean, it sounds really strange to say that,” says Angela Apel, Seth’s mom. “Sometimes, in our darkest moments, is when we learn the most and when we become the strongest and when we see the beauty of life and the beauty of a community.”
“God just gave me an opportunity to share with other people, and that’s what gets me through everything,” Seth added.